Man must repay $3M to Minnesota over illegal tobacco operation

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A Twin Cities man has been imprisoned and ordered to pay the State of Minnesota $3 million in restitution after bringing illegal tobacco into the state and selling it.

U.S. States Attorney Andrew Luger announced Friday that Rashid Ibrahim, 40, bought $4.3 million worth of untaxed smokeless tobacco products from out-of-state wholesalers between 2007 and 2011 and had them shipped to Minnesota.

He would then sell them on, even though he was not licensed to buy, sell, distribute, possess or receive such products.

Ibrahim, originally from Puerto Rico, used several tactics to prevent discovery, using aliases and addresses to conceal his tobacco purchases and private interstate carriers to ship the products into Minnesota, where he stored them in rented storage units.

He'd then illegally sell the products to retailers and other tobacco traffickers in the state, avoiding paying state taxes in the process.

He pleaded guilty in court last year to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to ship and six counts of shipment, transport, receive possess, sell and purchase contraband smokeless tobacco.

In U.S. District Court in St. Paul this week, he was sentenced to serve 57 months in prison, and ordered to repay just over $3 million in restitution to the state's revenue department.

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