Several people face charges in what state officials are calling the state's largest illegal tobacco distribution bust.
According to Department of Revenue Services commissioner Kevin Sullivan, the 5-month investigation netted 10 arrests, more than $50,000 in cash and $234,000 in contraband tobacco from KDV Discounts, LLC on Poland Street in Bridgeport.
The tobacco wholesaler was raided by DRS agents.
Sullivan said owner Pavan M. Vaswani of West Haven was arrested and charged with possession/sale of untaxed tobacco and conspiracy to possess/sell untaxed tobacco.
Also arrested were Carlos Beras of Waterbury, Sayed Ahmed of West Haven, Sheik Hossain of West Haven, Joshua Ortiz of Shelton; Quendri Ortiz of Bridgeport, Mohamed Farook of Naugatuck, Arti Patel of Wallingford, Prashant Patel of Naugatuck and Abdulkadar Shaikh of Stamford.
More arrests are also possible.
"I am pleased that our special agents shut down a very lucrative operation that was a significant distributor of untaxed tobacco products throughout Fairfield and New Haven Counties over several years," Sullivan said. "This action has put an end to what has been an ongoing crime involving as much as $250,000 in untaxed tobacco provided by the distributor and sold by local stores each month.”
According to the DRS, Vaswani's operation sold in excess of $13 million in untaxed tobacco to about 450 retail locations in the state.
The DRS said that equals roughly $6 million in outstanding excise and sales tax.
The tobacco itself was purchased in Pennsylvania and Illinois.
The DRS said Vaswani was arrested while unloading untaxed tobacco products from Pennsylvania. A delivery van was seized upon his arrest, along with $50,000 in cash.
If convicted, the suspects could face up to 2 years in prison, up to $2,000 in fines, or both.
Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.