Biggest untaxed tobacco seizure in MN history goes to court

Not buckling up could lead to a hefty cost depending on what is in your trunk.

The pair of Illinois men stopped with an estimated $78,000 in untaxed tobacco received felony charges for the smuggling of tobacco into the state of Minnesota.

Last June, State Patrol pulled over Muhammed Abdul Majid and Iman Ugurlu for passing a weigh station in their Penske truck without stopping, as well as driving without buckling.

After some inspection of paper work, the patrol officer discovered the truck rented outside of Beloit, Illinois despite the claim of a delivery from Wisconsin. When an inspection was conducted after brining the vehicle in, the tobacco was discovered.

They were charged in Washington County District on Feb. 9 and had their first court appearance March 9. According to CBS, they are looking down the barrel. If convicted, they face at least five years in prison with/or a $10,000 fine for each felony charge.

Because Minnesota charges a 95 percent tax on the retail value, the taxes dodged stood at roughly $74,000, and because possessing, distributing or selling of untaxed tobacco at amounts greater than $1,400 is a felony, the charges were set to be hefty.

Because of the high tax rate in Minnesota, it is commonplace to have tobacco smuggled in from other states.

The 2016 free-think tank Mackinac Center for Public Policy insinuated that the problem has spiked ever since Minnesota law makers raised the tax in 2013. The study also showed that one-third of cigarettes consumed in the state in 2014 were smuggled in.

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