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Cigarette smuggling operation nets prison for three

Posted January 30, 2012

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— Three men have been sentenced to federal prison after a two-year undercover investigation into cigarette smuggling, authorities said Monday.

"Operation Smoke Screen" traced $21 million in cigarettes that the group purchased in North Carolina and illegally shipped to New York and New Jersey. By avoiding the higher sales taxes in those two states, the group was able to make a sizable profit on the cigarettes, authorities said.

Omar M. Nijim, 24, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was convicted by a federal court jury in Greenville last September of conspiring to traffic in contraband cigarettes. He was recently sentenced to three years in prison.

Nabil Nafiz Mustafa, 26, of Greensboro, Emad Hasan Tawfiq Wshah, 39, of Winterville, Mamoun Hasah Wshah, 40, of Greenville, and Sobhi Sulieman Shehadeh, 55, of Roanoke Rapids, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport more than $5,000 in stolen goods across state lines.

Mustafa was sentenced recently to 20 months in prison, and Emad Wshah received a 26-month sentence. Mamoun Wshah and Shehadeh are awaiting sentencing.

The members of the group also forfeited $11.8 million in cash and other assets, including a 1999 Ferrari F355 Spider, a 2008 BMW X5 SUV, a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe and a 2010 Ford F-150 pickup.

31 Comments

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  • twc Jan 30, 2012

    How did they have enough money left over after paying all the various forms of taxation to buy cigarettes?

    They probably didn't make that much once they consider how much tax they paid on gas.

  • twc Jan 30, 2012

    What!?!?!?!?!? How dare they try to steal from those who are stealing from us????

  • Rebelyell55 Jan 30, 2012

    ......what was stolen? ........................each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport more than $5,000 in stolen goods across state lines.
    jp11
    January 30, 2012 3:23 p.m.
    The Feds told em they had truck load of stolen smokes, they bought em, so in a long theorical sense, they purchase stolen goods and transported them. Did the Fed actually steal them? Maybe not, the company may of donated them .

  • Rebelyell55 Jan 30, 2012

    Wow, sound like the goverment set all this up to justify their jobs, as for the stolen stuff, well, ya know it's called a new "brief" for a reason. Anyway, them folks have better learn how the goverment work so they don't be getting into so much trouble. Are they going be deported once they're out?

  • mroch123 Jan 30, 2012

    As we should all know from our American history ... when an oppressive government overburdens and financially rapes its citizens, the citizens rebel and the media will call them criminals.

  • carrboroyouth Jan 30, 2012

    Did they steal the cigarettes? Sounds like they just bought them here and sold them there - where does "stolen goods" come into play?

  • stupidbrainchild Jan 30, 2012

    Anything stolen? The problem is that only big corporations are allowed to do something like that.

  • jp11 Jan 30, 2012

    ......what was stolen? ........................each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport more than $5,000 in stolen goods across state lines.

  • ghimmy51 Jan 30, 2012

    It's always the same thing. Government wants a cut anywhere they smell money. It doesn't make it right even if they call it "legal" and call people buying and selling legal items "criminals".

  • wral suks bauls Jan 30, 2012

    Call me crazy but wouldn't that be good for NC?? The increase in NC cigarette tax has just became ridiculous so it won't be long before other states like VA and SC get the cigarette business because our dumb law-makers will do another 800% increase

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