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ASP, Arkansas Tobacco Control, seizes $311K worth of illicit cigarettes following traffic stops



Little Rock, Arkansas – On Thursday, state police, assisted by officers from Arkansas Tobacco Control, recovered a staggering 32,671 illicit cigarettes valued at $311,000, setting a new record.

Ali Ali Ashabi, 35, of El Paso, Texas, was reportedly charged with possession of untaxed tobacco and unauthorized use of another person’s property to facilitate certain crimes after being detained and taken to the Lonoke County Detention Facility, according to the police.

According to an ASP news release, a trooper who pulled over a cargo van on Interstate 40 close to Carlisle found multiple packs of cigarettes within the cargo area after searching the vehicle.

More than 3,270 cigarette cartons were taken by the trooper and an agent of the Arkansas Tobacco Control Enforcement.

“This stop is a testament to the importance of strong relationships among law enforcement organizations,” said Trent Minner, Administrator of DFA’s Regulatory Division. “Our partners at State Police immediately contacted Tobacco Control, allowing an agent to arrive on scene quickly. As a result, we made what we believe is the largest seizure of illegal and untaxed cigarettes in Arkansas, saving the state a significant amount of tax revenue.”

Along with the smoke, the cargo vehicle was also seized, according to the police.

The Regulatory Division of the Department of Finance and Administration is in charge of Tobacco Control.

5,262 tobacco permits are governed by Arkansas Tobacco Control throughout the state.

“Contraband cigarettes are one of the leading sources of funding for terrorism in the United States,” said ASP Colonel Mike Hagar. “We will continue to work with all our partners at Tobacco Control Enforcement to expose and dismantle organizations behind illegal cigarette operations.”


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