New York law enforcement late Wednesday busted a smuggling ring, consisting of suspected members of Hamas and Hezbollah, that has been funneling millions of dollars of funds to terrorist organizations from the sale of tax-free cigarettes, the New York Daily News reported citing local law enforcement officials.
According to the report, The New York state attorney general and the New York Police Department (NYPD) arrested 16 members of the group.
The ring had infiltrated the market with the sales of over one million cartons of tax-free cigarettes smuggled from Southern states, where they were bought at cheaper prices, legal authorities were reported as saying .
The ring allegedly bought $55 million of cigarettes smuggled from North Carolina and Virgina in the last year, the report said, adding that weekly sales of 20,000 cartons were trucked to locations in New York.
The smuggling group reportedly evaded $80 million in taxes while making about $10 million in profit, according to the Daily News report.
One detained smuggler, Youssef Odeh, was a supporter of blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman who has exhorted global "messages of hate" and has called to "kill (Jews) wherever they are," the report said. The sheik was sentenced to life in prison for plotting to blow up New York landmarks, it was reported.