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WRVA: Cigarette Smuggling Guilty Plea Head of one of Virginia's largest cigarette smuggling oper

Henrico County, VA _ The leader of one of the largest cigarette smuggling operations in Virginia history pleaded guilty today in Henrico County Circuit Court.

Following a three-year long investigation by Henrico County Police Division and Henrico County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, Ebrahim Saif Alsaidi, 30, of Richmond Hill, NY, pleaded guilty to six felonies, including possession with the intent to distribute tax-paid cigarettes, and racketeering offenses. He was sentenced to 85 years and $500,000 fine, plus additional civil penalties and payment of taxes levied against people whose names he used to set up and conduct his front businesses. Mr. Alsaidi will have to serve three years and six months of the sentence.

Alsaidi ran an interstate cigarette trafficking organization that employed 24 people to purchase tax-exempt cigarettes in Virginia and transport them to New York City, where they were sold for large profits. He set up at least 35 fictious businesses, using other peoples’ identities, false business forms, and forged IRS documents to facilitate the illegal activity. Over the period of the investigation, his organization purchased over $30,800,000.00 of cigarettes, more than 600,000 cartons, tax-exempt, in cash. As the cigarettes were sold illegally in New York, the Commonwealth was denied over $1,500,000.00 in sales tax revenue.

This criminal enterprise was extremely sophisticated and well organized. Mr. Alsaidi brought associates to Henrico County from Michigan, North Carolina, and New York to work for him, he utilized polygraphs on his subordinates to insure loyalty, and tracked his shipments with GPS tracking devices. Several violent crimes have been tied to members of the organization, including car-jackings and armed robbery.

The case was prosecuted by Henrico County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nael Abouzaki. Agencies assisting in this investigation include the New York City Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland State Police PACE Team, Maryland Comptroller’s Office, Georgetown (DE) Police Department, Caroline County Sheriff’s Office, Chesterfield County Police, Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Hanover Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, Virginia State Police, the Virginia Office of the Attorney General Tobacco Enforcement Unit, the Virginia Department of Taxation, and Altria/Philip Morris USA Brand and Trade Channel Integrity Group.

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