Comptroller, State Police Partnership Leads to Cigarette Bust on I-95 in Howard County

- One Arrest, Vehicle and Nearly $40K Worth of Cigarettes Seized -

Annapolis, MD (October 17, 2012)

Continuing in his efforts to aggressively crackdown on cigarette smuggling and other tax evasion tactics, Comptroller Peter Franchot announced today that agents from his Field Enforcement Division, working in conjunction with Maryland State Police, confiscated thousands of packs of contraband cigarettes on Interstate 95 South. Yesterday, during a routine traffic violation stop near Route 175, Maryland State Trooper Douglas Deaner of the Waterloo Barrack in Howard County noticed that the driver of a New York registered vehicle was transporting a significantly large quantity of contraband cigarettes. The Comptroller’s agents arrived on the scene and seized 6,000 packs of contraband cigarettes, valued at nearly $40,000.

“This illegal activity will not be tolerated in the State of Maryland,” said Comptroller Franchot. “I want to thank Maryland State Trooper Deaner for his invaluable assistance in this case. This is a great example of the tremendous partnership my agency has with law enforcement agencies throughout the state.”

Following the joint investigation, officials arrested the driver of the vehicle, El-Housseni Hassan, a 23-year-old resident of Brooklyn, NY. He has been charged with Transporting Contraband Cigarettes and Possession of Contraband Cigarettes in the State of Maryland. The transporting charge is a felony, which carries a $50 per carton fine and/or two-year imprisonment sentence. The possession offense is a misdemeanor, carrying a $1,000 fine and/or imprisonment, not exceeding one year. Comptroller Franchot has been a strong advocate for harsher penalties and stricter enforcement for these crimes throughout the state.

“Working together with their colleagues, my agents will continue to be vigilant as we work to arrest and prosecute those who blatantly disregard Maryland’s tobacco laws which protect law-abiding businesses and keep our communities free of contraband,” continued Comptroller Franchot.

The vehicle was confiscated and the defendant detained, pending an initial hearing before a Howard County District Court Commissioner.

MEDIA CONTACT: Caron Brace, 410-212-9414 (cell)