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41 indicted in alleged tobacco trafficking ring

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The case against an alleged tax-skirting, tobacco-trafficking ring that officials have called "organized crime" entered a new phase this week when a Gwinnett County grand jury indicted 41 people.

Indictments handed down in Gwinnett Superior Court include charges of racketeering, possession of cigarettes with counterfeit stamps and possession of unstamped cigarettes. Charges for the suspects -- mostly gas station owners or tobacco wholesalers -- varied based on each person's role in a scheme that spanned multiple Georgia counties, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens's office said Friday.

Olens has said the ring defrauded Georgia out of millions in tobacco tax revenue.

After a three-year investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Atlanta division, 50 arrests were announced in October. The suspects were accused of obtaining counterfeit tax stamps for cigarettes and cigars, then selling them at "tax paid prices" to net substantially higher profits.

The Gwinnett County District Attorney's Office, Lawrenceville Police Department and the Sheriff's Department assisted in the roundup. While many arrests were local, other hotbeds included the Macon area and regions "north of Gwinnett County," officials said. One suspect was tracked down in Guam.

One man connected to the ring, Cajetan Ferio Fernandez, a former employee of an alleged contraband cigarette trafficker, pleaded guilty in Gwinnett Superior Court earlier this year to one count of possession of cigarettes with counterfeit stamps. He was sentenced to one year in confinement.

A DeKalb County grand jury has returned indictments on three other suspects.

Comments

timmy2789 2 years, 4 months ago

why would you even try to make innocent people thiefs? ok you do it first time you arrest them.but why did they keep providing unstamped cig to these people?this whole deal destryoed not only 41 people but their enitre family for rest of their life.. but why? why would you as a cop even approch innocent people with this kind of trap? ok fine they fall for it first time..they could have arrested the first person and that could had avoided ruin everyone elses life..but no they wanted more people to buy this stuff. and they didnt steal tax money..georgia allowed them to steal it. if i go around as a under cover and offer regular people a ipad or a iphone for $50 and when they buy this i tell them"hey i didnt pay tax for this ,,do you think they care? no 80% people will buy it.. this is a case of entrappment..even i heard this cops calls this 41 people to ask them if they need anything? why? this people are hard working , family oriented, never been in any kind of trouble. but just b/c gwinnet county decide,hey lets get this people b/c they have money..and gwinnet county tag this people as gang...they would never had done this if you didnt provide us with cig...i can understand if this guys made a plan and done this themself .but no they done this with help of gwinnett county and they got in trouble.. how they could have avoided all this. guy buys cig from cop. 1st time..arrest him and charge him...but no they countiune providing this for 4 years and made this people criminals. did they kill any one? no. did they sell drungs? no did they cheat anyone? no did they rob anyone? no


i think it was more about money than anything else...

THINK ABOUT THIS; why dont they go and try to sell huge amount of drugs.. who would buy millions from cops .and even if they do..they dont have anymore money..but this case they went to people who work their ass off and saved thier money..made them criminals..

ALL i have to say is to anyone who reads this..They can take away everything from you even you never done anything wrong..

instead of using this time and money to get people who sell drugs or really destroy this world..you guys came after regular people to steal their freedom and their money..

congrats to gwinnett county.

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dentaldawg83 2 years, 4 months ago

these "innocents" are hardly innocent. they are probably involved in other scams and theiveries and this was the best way to take them out of circulation.

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Kat 2 years, 3 months ago

Are you suggesting this was a sting operation? I didn't read that in any of the media releases. Even if it was, no one forces you to break the law. A hard working law abiding family that owns their own business would have said no thank you if offered a chance to increase their profits by avoiding taxes. They knew what they were doing, they got caught. Too bad so sad.

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news2me 2 years, 3 months ago

Sorry to hear about your family timmy, but you do realize that organized crime, racketeering and counterfeiting are very serious crimes? Innocent people don't break laws of this magnitude and get slapped on the wrist because you think they are first time offenders. Stop making excuses for people that have broken the law.

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Maya 1 year, 5 months ago

....ATF is the big money source for usa by there way in taking people money this is the real definition of capitalism human with no feeling ... When that will stop??? Their agents can buy the cigarettes pack for 5 dollars from Phillip Morris in va and they go to gas stations or licensed tobacco sellers to sell them these cigarettes for 29 or 30 dollars a pack then arrest them to make these people look like criminals,, they (ATF) are the real criminals and threat to the society... The big devil of America ... Believe me these people ATF are more dangerous than real terrorists.... Timmy am totally agreed with you

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roaads1 2 years, 4 months ago

It's scams like these that cheat our local governments out of money and cause us to have to shut down schools or other government funded programs. Good job on the arrests.

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gwinnettisgreat1 2 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, but will they smoke labled cigs in prison... that's what I want to know.

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Maya 1 year, 5 months ago

....ATF is the big money source for usa by there way in taking people money this is the real definition of capitalism human with no feeling ... When that will stop??? Their agents can buy the cigarettes pack for 5 dollars from Phillip Morris in va and they go to gas stations or licensed tobacco sellers to sell them these cigarettes for 29 or 30 dollars a pack then arrest them to make these people look like criminals,, they (ATF) are the real criminals and threat to the society... The big devil of America ... Believe me these people ATF are more dangerous than real terrorists

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