After a year-long investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a federal grand jury has indicted nine people, including two Naperville men, in connection with contraband cigarette trafficking and evading state and local taxes in excess of $1 million, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced Friday.
Mohammad Uddin, 29, and Ahsan Uddin, 27, of Naperville, were named in the indictment, according to a news release from James L. Santelle, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
The indictment says the nine defendants conspired to possess and transport unstamped cigarettes in quantities of 10,000 or more from Wisconsin to Illinois to evade Illinois state and local taxes, according to Santelle.
In addition, the indictment also alleges that individual defendants possessed and transported between one and 182 cases (or between 12,000 to over 2 million cigarettes), and collectively they evaded between $1 million and $4.6 million in state and local taxes.
According to the news release Mohammad Uddin and two other defendants also allegedly sold quantities of counterfeit Wisconsin and Illinois tax stamps.
Mohammad Uddin was charged with conspiracy, 21 counts of contraband cigarette trafficking, and one count of possession and sale of counterfeit tax stamps. Ahsan Uddin was charged with conspiracy and four counts of contraband cigarette trafficking, according to Santelle.
“The defendants conspired to evade the established cigarette tax laws of the States of Illinois and Wisconsin for the express purpose of self-enrichment; in doing so, they also prevented the legitimate collection of millions of dollars in state revenues,” Santelle said in the news release. “Their trafficking in contraband cigarettes, including their use of counterfeit tax stamps, has been the focus of a productive and extensive investigation by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, resulting in the grand jury indictment. In cooperation with our federal investigative partner, our office will prosecute this matter—and others like it that similarly involve the possession and transportation of contraband goods—to ensure the integrity of the state tax systems from which all law-abiding citizens benefit.”
Santelle said each conspiracy and contraband cigarette trafficking offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each counterfeit tax offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.