Friday, May 17, 2013

NY cigarette-smuggling ring may have terror link

Cigarettes sold in New York City carry a tax of nearly $6 a pack. 

New York (CNN) -- A cigarette smuggling scheme that cost New York state millions of dollars in sales tax revenue may have raised funds for militant groups, authorities said.

Sixteen Palestinian men, some with ties to convicted terrorists, were indicted Thursday in the alleged scheme that spans New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey states.

Investigators say they uncovered $55 million in illegal cigarette sales.

 Although it is unclear where the illicit proceeds ended up, similar schemes have funded organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, according to Ray Kelly, commissioner of the New York Police Department.

"This case started because we were being vigilant about terrorism," Kelly said in a statement. "We discovered that individuals who were on our radar for links to known terrorists were engaged in a massive raid on the New York Treasury in the form of cigarette tax avoidance."

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