Federal authorities say three Eastern Carolina men are among five charged in a multi-million dollar scheme to smuggle low-taxed cigarettes up north.
Emad Wshah and Mamoun Wshah, both of Winterville, along with Sobhi Shehadeh of Roanoke Rapids are named in a 40-count federal indictment.
U.S. Attorney George Holding says the five men are accused of using Penske or Ryder trucks to ship some $2.4 million in North Carolina cigarettes to New Jersey. The indictment says the illegal shipments started in 2008 and continued until this year. Troopers conducted an inventory of Abujudeh’s car after it was impounded and allegedly found 28,000 untaxed cigarettes in the trunk, the district attorney’s office said.
Abujudeh pleaded not guilty to possessing more than 10,000 untaxed cigarettes with the intention to sell them, a felony, and unlicensed operation of a vehicle and speeding, both traffic violations.
If convicted the men face up to 20 years in federal prison.