DOVER, Del. - A man arrested in Delaware and linked to an alleged cigarette-smuggling ring that may have funneled money to terrorist groups was being held Friday on $12.5 million bail.
State police arrested Adel Abuzahrieh, 47, of Staten Island, N.Y., after a traffic stop Wednesday on Route 1 near Milford. Troopers said they found 201 cases of cigarettes in the box truck he was driving and seized between $15,000 and $20,000 in cash.
Abuzahrieh loaded a 2007 Mitsubishi box truck with cigarettes stored at a facility in Selbyville and began driving north on Route 1, said Sgt. Paul Shavack, a Delaware State Police spokesman. Abuzahrieh was taken into custody without incident and arrested on a fugitive warrant from New York alleging "enterprise corruption," Shavack said.
New York authorities allege Abuzahrieh is part of a smuggling ring that made a fortune selling more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York and may have funneled some of the proceeds to terrorist groups.
The two alleged ringleaders, brothers Basel and Samer Ramadan, were arrested Wednesday in Ocean City, Md., where authorities say investigators found $1.5 million in the home and car of Basel Ramadan.
Garry Mumford, warden of the Worcester County, Md., jail, said the Ramadan brothers remained in custody Friday. Abuzahrieh was being held at Sussex Correctional Institute in Georgetown awaiting extradition. It was unclear whether he had a lawyer.
Investigators allege that the Ramadans and others formed a distribution chain to move mass quantities of cigarettes bought from a Virginia wholesaler to New York. Authorities said the cigarettes were stored in Delaware, where distributors picked up about 20,000 cartons a week to be sold at markets throughout New York City and at grocery stores in Upstate New York.