Pitt County Men Convicted In Cigarette Smuggling Ring

Two men, one from Greenville, the other from Winterville, have been convicted in a federal investigation. Prosecutors say they helped traffic contraband cigarettes from North Carolina to four other states.

The U. S. Department of Justice says 39-year-old Emad Hasan Tawfiq Wshah of Winterville and 40-year-old Mamoun Hasah Wshah of Greenville were busted in "Operation Smoke Screen," a two year undercover investigation of Middle Eastern men suspected of trafficking cigarettes. Also indicted were 55-year-old Sobhi Sulieman Shehadeh of Roanoke Rapids, 26-year-old Nabil Nafiz Mustafa of Greensboro and 24-year-old Omar M. Nijim of Brooklyn, New York.

The group was indicted in February 2011 on forty counts. Authorities say the group purchased what they thought were stolen cigarettes and "export only" cigarettes, and shipped $21 million worth through North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey and New York. Taxes on cigarettes in North Carolina are lower compared to New York and New Jersey.

According to the Department of Justice, "agents seized approximately $1.9 million dollars in cash, approximately $10 million dollars in bank accounts, including an ATF churning account, a 1999 Ferrari F355 Spider, a 2008 BMW X5 SUV, a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe and a 2010 Ford F-150."

Emad Wshah of Winterville and Mamoun Wshah, of Greenville pled guilty to conspiring to transport stolen goods valued at more than $5,000 in interstate commerce, as did Sobhi Shehadeh of Roanoke Rapids. Emad Wshah was sentenced to 26 months in prison. Sentences are pending for and Shehadeh.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the National Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB); the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (NC ALE); the Wake County Sheriff's Office;
the Raleigh Police Department; the Zebulon Police Department; the Rocky Mount Police Department; the Durham Police Department; the Greenville Police Department; and the New Jersey Treasury Enforcement.

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  • by Sadly True on Jan 30, 2012 at 03:12 PM
    Don't worry about the Meth and the trafficking of cocaine, make sure you get these people selling cigarettes. They are going to destroy people's lives with them... All the time and money they spent investigating this for what? Oh that's right, don't mess with the state's money or they'll put you under the jail.
    • reply
      by c-had on Jan 30, 2012 at 06:38 PM in reply to Sadly True
      Dont forget the millions they spend busting your pot smoking tax paying neighbors.The only reason they got busted is because it is so easy to obtain a warrant(can you say phone tap) for anyone from the middle east.At least they werent terrorists.LOL!!!!!!!! Dont forget they might be listening to you too.
      • reply
        by Sadly True on Jan 31, 2012 at 03:59 AM in reply to c-had
        I don't even count pot as a drug. It's no worse than alcohol and you never hear of a "mean pothead."
  • by Anonymous on Jan 30, 2012 at 03:07 PM
    it wouldn't be questioned, it would be spent on rims
  • by Data Man on Jan 30, 2012 at 01:42 PM
    We let them come over here and do everything else! White men and arabs can do whatever they want. If a black man had 50,000 in the bank it would be questioned! america is so full of it!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jan 30, 2012 at 03:06 PM in reply to Data Man
      this has got to be the dumbest comment ever posted, the "black man" has a month set aside to worship his accomplishments, can get a job or a free ride to college based solely on the color of your skin while more qualified people suffer, and use your skin color to promote hate and "advancement", NAACP is full of it bro
    • reply
      by Sadly True on Jan 30, 2012 at 03:16 PM in reply to Data Man
      I can't fathom the amount of false racism you inject into everything you think or talk about.
  • by Wee Location: Marina Del Rey, CA on Jan 30, 2012 at 10:53 AM
    So glad I left NC...the law there is sad...seriously...over tobacco...how about you do something useful and fix some of the violent crime that seems to be on the rise there...there's more violent crime in eastern NC than there is is LA...that's sad.
  • by john Location: farmville on Jan 30, 2012 at 10:28 AM
    you should try the store out beside the little rocket
    • reply
      by Cantbelieveit on Jan 30, 2012 at 12:01 PM in reply to john
      WOW really, ppl like you pointing a finger are usually the ones up to no gud. Sad person you seem to be.
  • by cigarettes????? on Jan 30, 2012 at 09:51 AM
    hehehe... you mean all that time and money was spent on investigating tobacco????????? yet we have the gangs, murderers, rapists, drugs, child molesters and etc. running the streets and they are worried about cigarettes????heheheheheheheehe whata jokeeeee........
    • reply
      by Wee on Jan 30, 2012 at 10:51 AM in reply to cigarettes?????
      of course...we all know that was a major issue...just like them busting ppl for selling marijuana...yet you almost never hear about them busting a big crack or coke dealer...
  • by nightrain on Jan 30, 2012 at 09:42 AM
    Strange thing is, if they'd been convicted of selling crack or coke, they would probably have just gotten probation. Like I said before, don't mess with a state's tax money.
  • by nightrain on Jan 30, 2012 at 09:42 AM
    Strange thing is, if they'd been convicted of selling crack or coke, they would probably have just gotten probation. Like I said before, don't mess with a state's tax money.
  • by c-had Location: police state nc on Jan 30, 2012 at 09:12 AM
    The Feds are a joke.LOL
  • by nightrain on Jan 30, 2012 at 07:15 AM
    If you really want to get caught, just interfere with states getting their tax money.
    • reply
      by c-had on Jan 30, 2012 at 06:29 PM in reply to nightrain
      Yup."Dont steal,the government doesnt like competition"
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