Friday, May 17, 2013

NY: 16 Palestinians arrested for selling bootleg cigarettes and funneling the money to Hamas and Hezbollah

One of the arrested is linked to 1994 murder of Yeshiva student Ari Halberstam on Brooklyn Bridge.

14 of the arrested are in the US illegally.

NEW YORK (News12) - Sixteen people have been arrested in connection with a Palestinian cigarette smuggling ring that has possible ties to Middle East terrorist groups.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the NYPD busted the ring on Wednesday they say has made millions of dollars selling tax-free cigarettes in the city and upstate. Members of the ring allegedly dodged $80 million in taxes and pocketed at least $10 million.

Prosecutors believe the ring was run by brothers Basel and Samir Ramadan, of Ocean City, Maryland. Law enforcement officials say some members of the group may be affiliated with Hamas and Hezbollah.

Among those arrested is Youssef Odeh, 52, of Staten Island, a supporter of notorious terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. Rahman is serving a life sentence for his role in an attempted 1993 plot to blow up New York landmarks.