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King George-based federal investigation leads to 27 arrests
BY KEITH EPPS
A King George County-based federal investigation into illegal cigarette trafficking has resulted in 27 arrests.
None of those arrested are from the Fredericksburg area. Most of them live in New York.
According to local sources and a press release issued by the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, King George was chosen as the site of a 17-month federal investigation that included federal and state agents.
Authorities set up an undercover storefront location designated as KG Wholesale near the Harry W. Nice Bridge on U.S. 301 in Dahlgren.
Cigarette purchasers came to the location by appointment only, and the storefront was wired for video and audio surveillance to record the identities of the purchasers.
During the course of the investigation, authorities said, undercover agents sold 295,000 cartons of untaxed cigarettes for which the suspects paid $6.1 million in cash.
Most of the cigarettes were then resold to wholesalers and retailers in the New York area, where the cost of cigarettes is much higher. Some was also resold in Michigan.
Authorities said some of the defendants sold or tried to sell $6.2 million in counterfeit cigarette stamps to the undercover agents, and one traded two handguns and ammunition in exchange for cigarettes.
The 27 defendants are charged with such crimes as criminal conspiracy, trafficking in contraband cigarettes, money laundering and felony possession of firearms and ammunition. Nineteen are in custody.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404