Traffic stop leads to biggest seizure of untaxed tobacco products in MN history: More than $74,000 in tobacco taxes should have been paid
The Minnesota Department of Revenue announced that the Washington County Attorney's Office recently charged Mohammad A.M. Abdul Majid and Iman Gencehan Ugurlu, both from Bridgeview, IL, with one count each of felony aiding and abetting possession of untaxed tobacco products and one count each of felony aiding and abetting aggravated forgery.
According to the complaint, a Minnesota state trooper on I-94 stopped a rental truck occupied by Majid and Ugurlu for bypassing an open weigh station and not wearing seatbelts.
The men allegedly said they were making a delivery for Ugurlu's uncle's business, Statewide Distributors Inc., but could not produce the company's USDOT number, which they also failed to display on both sides of their truck.
Observing several commercial motor vehicle violations, the complaint states that the trooper escorted the vehicle to the nearest weight station where a commercial vehicle inspector could safely perform an inspection of the truck. The men revealed that the truck was carrying tobacco products and they reportedly provided an invoice for their shipment to the trooper. Neither the distributor, Statewide Distributors Inc., nor the wholesaler, Hudson Wholesale LLC, were found to exist at the addresses listed on the invoice, according to the complaint.
After the vehicle inspection was completed, the inspector allegedly examined the cargo area and found the truck to be completely full of loose and palletized tobacco products.
Having observed multiple indicators of possible criminal activity, the trooper seized the vehicle and its contents until it could be thoroughly investigated. Once a warrant was obtained, Department of Revenue staff assisted in removing and itemizing the tobacco products.
The department's investigator determined that the retail value of the tobacco products seized was over $78,000, which indicated that more than $74,000 in tobacco taxes should have been paid, according to the complaint.
This is the largest known seizure of untaxed tobacco products in Minnesota history.
Each tax-related felony charge carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This is an example of the department's ongoing efforts to uniformly enforce the state's cigarette and tobacco laws. For more information on the tax laws related to tobacco products in Minnesota, visit our website.
Although most taxpayers comply with tax laws voluntarily, the Minnesota Department of Revenue takes enforcement action against noncompliant taxpayers to ensure that tax laws are administered fairly.
The Minnesota Department of Revenue has a 24-hour tip line for anyone who suspects that a person or business is violating Minnesota tax laws. Local callers may dial 651-297-5195 or call toll-free by dialing 1-800-657-3500. Tips can also be submitted to the department via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tipsters may choose to remain anonymous.
Get the latest news and updates from the Minnesota Department of Revenue by following the department onFacebook and Twitter or by signing up for our email subscription list.