Comptroller Peter Franchot announced that his Field Enforcement Division (FED) assisted in charges brought against four men from Baltimore and New York. Maryland State Police (MSP) and Maryland Transportation Authority Police (MDTAP) made three separate vehicle stops and FED officers conducted field inspections in the past two weeks, resulting in the confiscation of more than 26,000 packs of contraband cigarettes and more than 5,000 cigars for a total value of nearly $173,000.
“With their fine police work and partnering, the Maryland State Police, the Maryland Transportation Authority Police and my own Field Enforcement Division agents continue to combat illegal cigarette smuggling in our state,” Comptroller Franchot said. “I’d like to thank all of the officers involved for their hard work and efforts to stop this kind of criminal activity.”
In each case, FED officers were notified and responded to each investigation. Those arrested include:
Senauth Deonarain, 41, Brooklyn, N.Y. On Nov. 8, MSP Trooper Matthew Atkinson stopped a 2016 Nissan Pathfinder, with a N.Y. registration, for a traffic violation on Interstate 95, in Perryville, Cecil County. Deonarain faces a felony charge of transporting contraband cigarettes and a misdemeanor charge of possession of contraband cigarettes. FED officers confiscated 6,599 packs of cigarettes, valued at $42,563, and the vehicle. Deonarain was released on personal recognizance.
Young G. Kwon, 59, Baltimore, Md. On Nov. 9, FED agents conducted a routine tobacco retailer inspection at Charlie’s Grocery store at 1100 S. Carey St. in Baltimore. During the inspection, agents found untaxed Other Tobacco Products (OTP) within the store inventory. Kwon, who is the store’s owner, faces a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of untaxed OTP. FED agents seized 5,136 cigars, valued at $3,991. The penalty is a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Walied Thabet, 29, Corona, N.Y. On Nov. 9, MSP Trooper Alan Flaugher stopped a 2016 Ford Explorer, with a Pennsylvania registration, for a traffic violation on I-95 in Perryville, Cecil County. Thabet faces a felony charge of transporting contraband cigarettes and a misdemeanor charge of possession of contraband cigarettes. FED officers seized 9, 410 packs of contraband cigarettes, valued at $60,694, and the vehicle. Thabet was released on personal recognizance.
Mobido Camara, 32, Bronx, N.Y. On Nov. 13, MDTAP Officer Renato Guarnaccia stopped a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer, with Pennsylvania registration, for an equipment violation on I-95 in Baltimore City. Camara faces a felony charge of transporting contraband cigarettes and a misdemeanor charge of possession of contraband cigarettes. FED agents seized 10,160 packs of contraband cigarettes, valued at $65,532, and the vehicle. Camara was released on $7,500 cash bond from the Baltimore City Central Booking facility.
Each arrest on the felony charge carries a penalty of two years in jail and/or a fine of $150 for each carton; and the misdemeanor charge carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
In Fiscal Year 2017, which started July 1, 2016, FED agents have arrested and charged 22 individuals for various tobacco violations after discovering 41 instances of breaches of Maryland’s tobacco laws. The arrests have resulted in the seizure of 42,267 packs of contraband cigarettes, the seizure of 38,213 sticks of OTP, valued at $308,624.