Berryville Bust Part of $33M Tobacco Sting

A Federal Grand Jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg has indicted dozens of individuals for conspiring to traffic in contraband cigarettes, money laundering and a variety of related charges.

The defendants were charged by the grand jury in four separate indictments returned under seal on February 17, 2011, August 3, 2011 and October 6, 2011. Those indictments were unsealed earlier this week following the arrest and initial court appearances by the defendants.

The charges are the result of a three-year investigation by the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Western District of Virginia and the District of South Carolina, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Department.

According to the indictments, the defendants acquired untaxed cigarettes in the Western District of Virginia and transported them for distribution in South Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York. Members of the conspiracy are accused of buying more than $33 million in contraband cigarettes from undercover federal agents during the life of the conspiracy. The Grand Jury has charged the following individuals:

February 17, 2011:

Bach Tuyet Tran, 58, of Winchester, Va., was charged with one count of conspiracy to sell contraband cigarettes; 44 counts of purchasing and receiving contraband cigarettes; 36 counts of money laundering-promotion; 19 counts of money launder- promotion, concealment and avoiding reporting requirement; and 41 counts of money laundering-transactions greater than $10,000.

August 3, 2011:

Cheng Zeng, 27, of Hedgesville, W.Va., was charged with one count of conspiracy to sell contraband cigarette and launder money; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and 22 counts of purchasing and receiving contraband cigarettes.

Mushtaq Ahmad, 34, Strasburg, Va., was charged with one count of conspiracy to sell contraband cigarettes and launder money; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and three counts of purchasing and receiving contraband cigarettes.

August 3, 2011:

Mohammad Syed Lone Kashmiri, 47, of Berryville, Va., was charged with one count of conspiracy to sell contraband cigarettes and launder money; 98 counts of purchasing and receiving contraband cigarettes; 98 counts of money laundering-promotion; and 14 counts of money laundering-spending.

Farhat Jabeen Lone Kashmiree, 49, of Berryville, Va., was charged with one count of conspiracy to sell contraband cigarettes and launder money; 98 counts of purchasing and receiving contraband cigarettes; 98 counts of money laundering-promotion; and 14 counts of money laundering-spending.

Farman Ali, 36, of Berryville, Va., was charged with one count of conspiracy to sell contraband cigarettes and launder money; 98 counts of purchasing and receiving contraband cigarettes; 98 counts of money laundering-promotion; and 14 counts of money laundering-spending.

Malik Ashfir, 43, Bay Shore, N.Y., was charged with one count of conspiracy to sell contraband cigarettes and launder money; 98 counts of purchasing and receiving contraband cigarettes; 98 counts of money laundering-promotion; and 14 counts of money laundering-spending.

October 6, 2011:

Anjay Patel, 35, of Spatanburg, S.C., was charged with conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes; conspiracy to commit money laundering; trafficking in contraband cigarettes; and money laundering charges.

Joseph Emmanuel, 38, of Mauldin, S.C., was charged with conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes; conspiracy to commit money laundering; conspiracy to dispose of cigarettes and not pay federal tax; conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit state tax stamps; trafficking in counterfeit cigarettes; sale or receipt of stolen goods; and money laundering charges.

Viresh Patel, 42, of Moore, S.C., was charged with conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes; conspiracy to commit money laundering; trafficking in contraband cigarettes; and money laundering charges.

Purvinkumar Patel, 32, of Spartanburg, S.C., was charged with conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes; conspiracy to commit money laundering; trafficking in contraband cigarettes; and money laundering charges.

Preston McCurley, 26, place of residence not available, was charged with conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes; conspiracy to commit money laundering; conspiracy to dispose of cigarettes and not pay federal tax; conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit state tax stamps; trafficking in counterfeit cigarettes; sale or receipt of stolen goods; and money laundering charges.

Chris Moneyhan, 36, of Spartanburg, S.C., was charged with conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes; conspiracy to commit money laundering; trafficking in contraband cigarettes; and money laundering charges.

Shilpaben Patel, 43, of Spartanburg, S.C., was charged with conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Boss Ramsey, 30, of Cowpens, S.C., was charged with conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Phil White, age and place of residence unavailable, was charged with conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes.

The investigation of the case was conducted by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Jeb Terrien and Ronald Huber of the Western District of Virginia and are prosecuting the case for the United States with substantial assistance from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.

A Grand Jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Comments

  1. Birdonawire says:

    33 Million?? Wow…

  2. Ivan Lambert says:

    the Apostle Paul wrote almost 2000 years ago, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”.
    Being proven true throughout the centuries…even in my little ole hometown, Berryville.

  3. “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”.

    You must be referring to the US Govt

  4. So now that 30 MiL has be collected. Where does that cash go? Do the states and the local areas get reimbursed for the taxes that were not collected when the store owners bought the tabacco? Or does this money just fade away into the sunset after the case is closed ?

  5. sarah monkol says:

    Money laundering can save businesses and individuals a lot of money. It is hard to track too, that’s why it is usually used when the person is making money with illegal activities. If you don’t know what money laundering is, this article gives a great explanation.

    http://explainlikeakid.blogspot.com/2011/09/explanation-on-money-laundering.html