SCHENECTADY — Thousands of black market cigars were seized in Mont Pleasant after state investigators observed and then arrested a man making tobacco deliveries, the state Department of Taxation and Finance announced Friday.
Rafat Alshegaa, 31, of Rensselaerville, Albany County, was charged with illegal possession of more than 2,500 untaxed cigars.
The Department of Taxation and Finance said its investigators seized more than 7,400 untaxed cigars and 3.6 pounds of untaxed loose tobacco after they noticed a man making deliveries of the contraband products along Crane Street.
“Our criminal investigators, working with our law enforcement partners around the state, remain vigilant in their effort to stop those who traffic in illicit tobacco products at the expense of their communities and honest businesses,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt.
Such products are typically sold more cheaply than retail tobacco products because they haven’t paid the state tobacco tax, which works out to about 28.5 percent of the retail price on cigars.
Tax Department investigators saw Alshegaa delivering plain cardboard boxes to retail stores from a van he had been driving. After questioning Alshegaa, investigators discovered the untaxed cigars and loose tobacco, as well as $1,100 in cash. Investigators seized the contraband tobacco and cash, along with the van Alshegaa was driving.
Alshegga was released and is scheduled to appear in Schenectady City Court on Oct. 21.