Man who ran one of the largest cigarette smuggling operations in Virginia sentenced

Crime

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A New York man who ran one of the largest cigarette smuggling operations in Virginia will spend the next several years in prison. 

Ebrahim Saif Alsaidi, 30, of Richmond Hill, NY, pleaded guilty in court on Friday to six felonies, including possession with the intent to distribute tax-paid cigarettes and racketeering offenses. 

Alsaidi was sentenced to 85 years and $500,000 fine, plus additional civil penalties and payment of taxes levied against people whose names he used to set up and conduct his front businesses.

He will have to serve three years and six months of the sentence.

Investigators say Alsaidi ran an interstate cigarette trafficking organization that employed 24 people to purchase tax-exempt cigarettes in Virginia and transport them to New York City, where they were sold for large profits. He set up at least 35 fictitious businesses, using other peoples’ identities, false business forms and forged IRS documents to facilitate the illegal activity. 

Over the period of the investigation, his organization purchased over $30 million of cigarettes, more than 600,000 cartons, tax-exempt, in cash. As the cigarettes were sold illegally in New York, the Commonwealth was denied over $1.5 million in sales tax revenue, according to police.

“This criminal enterprise was extremely sophisticated and well organized. Mr. Alsaidi brought associates to Henrico County from Michigan, North Carolina, and New York to work for him, he utilized polygraphs on his subordinates to ensure loyalty, and tracked his shipments with GPS tracking devices,” police said in a press release. 

Police say several violent crimes have been tied to members of the organization, including car-jackings and armed robbery.

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