Back in January, I discussed the extent to which high taxes had turned cigarettes in the city into a terrorist payday.
New York has the highest cigarette tax rate of any state, and nearly two-thirds of the state’s cigarette market is illegal. In New York City, it’s not uncommon for smokers to pay $12 for a pack.
As a result 60% of cigarettes sold in New York are smuggled.
Large scale cigarette smuggling networks in New York State are dominated by tight knit nationality-based networks, primarily families through blood or marriage of Lebanese, Yemeni, Jordanian and Palestinian descent.
Federal and New York State law enforcement officials estimate that nearly 60 percent of all convenience retail outlets in New York City are now Arab-owned.
So now we have another bust making headlines, but it’s the same old story.
A smuggling ring that made a fortune selling more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York may have funneled some of the illicit proceeds to terrorist groups, authorities said Thursday.
The traffickers lived modestly and had alleged links to known terrorists, including Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric serving a life sentence for a conspiracy to blow up New York City landmarks. That combination has raised concerns about where the money went.
“We know they made tens of millions of dollars but so far we’ve only found a fraction of that,” state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said while announcing enterprise corruption and other charges against 16 people, all Palestinian immigrants.
Two reputed ringleaders, brothers Basel and Samir Ramadan, were arrested Wednesday in Maryland. Investigators found $1.5 million — some stashed in black plastic garbage bags — in the home and car of Basel Ramadan, authorities said.
In high cig tax states and cities, tobacco has become what booze was during prohibition. And the new Mafia is Muslim funding not just organized crime, but organized terror.