N.Y. man arrested on Interstate 95 is charged in cigarette smuggling

Van halted near Route 175 said to carry 12,480 packs

March 07, 2000

A New York man was arrested yesterday on Interstate 95 near Route 175 in Howard County and charged in the smuggling of illegal cigarettes.

Alnuaimat Ahmad, 34, of the Bronx, N.Y., was arrested by enforcement agents for the state comptroller's office. He was accused of hauling 12,480 packs of cigarettes without Maryland tax stamps.

The cigarettes, which authorities said were found in a Dodge Caravan, are valued at $40,210 and represent a tax loss of $8,236 to Maryland.

Michael D. Golden, spokesman for the comptroller's office, said the arrest came as a result of surveillance by enforcement officials.

"Since Comptroller [William Donald] Schaefer took over, he's wanted his field enforcement division to focus on stemming the flow of illegal cigarettes in Maryland," Golden said.

"Certainly we expected an increase in illegal trafficking once the taxes went up last July," he said.

Last summer, Maryland's cigarette tax increased from 36 cents to 66 cents a pack.

Golden said cigarettes are sometimes transported from Virginia -- where they are taxed at 2.5 cents a pack -- to Maryland and other states.

Ahmad was charged with the unlawful possession of untaxed cigarettes, a misdemeanor that carries a possible one-year jail sentence and $1,000 fine. He was also charged with the transportation of untaxed cigarettes, a felony that carries a possible two-year sentence and a fine of $50 a carton.

Yesterday's seizure marked the 24th arrest by enforcement agents since the tax was raised in July. Agents have seized 146,714 packs of cigarettes, valued at $472,712 -- a tax loss of $96,831 for the state, the comptroller's office said.

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