Franchots men seize $75,000 worth of tobacco products in two raids

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (April 18, 2018) – Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that agents from his Field Enforcement Division (FED) have assisted in a traffic stop and conducted investigations of two retail stores resulting in the confiscation of tobacco products valued at nearly $75,000.

At 11:10 p.m. on April 11, FED agents assisted MSP Sgt. Mike Conner who stopped a 2014 Dodge Ram pick-up truck registered in North Carolina on northbound I-95 at Northeast Road in Northeast, Cecil County. Agents seized 10,770 packs of unstamped cigarettes and the truck. The seized cigarettes are valued at $69,466.50, representing a tax loss to state of $21,540.

The driver Nely M. Rodriguez-Marte, 45, of Bronx, NY, and her son, Jose Luis, Galabert-Rodriguez, 21, also of the Bronx, were arrested and taken before a court commissioner. Each faces a felony charge of transporting unstamped cigarettes and a misdemeanor charge of possession of unstamped cigarettes. Rodriguez-Marte was released on $350 cash bond and Galabert-Rodriguez was released on $150 cash bond.

“I appreciate the efforts of the Maryland State Police and my FED officers in stopping these kinds of cigarette smugglers trying to cheat Maryland and its citizens,” Comptroller Franchot said. “Combatting the flow of illegal cigarettes in our state is a 24/7 job and I thank the officers who do it.”

On April 13, FED agents and inspectors seized untaxed other tobacco products (OTP) of non-premium and a small quantity of premium cigars, valued at a total of more than $5,500, during separate inspections at stores in Baltimore City and Baltimore County

Each store’s owner faces a criminal citation of willful possession, sale or offer to sell untaxed tobacco products. They are:

  • Yonas Tesfamariam, 48, of Washington, D.C., owner of N&S Grocery Store, LLC, at 3233 Belair Road, Baltimore; 1,332 sticks of untaxed OTP seized with a retail value of $1,332 and representing a tax loss of $932.40.
  • Dinup Gnyawali, 30, of Columbia, MD, owner of GP and Brothers Inc., trading as Cigs and Cigars, 36 Kingston Road, Middle River, Baltimore County; 3,386 sticks of untaxed OTP seized with a retail value of $4,188.71 and a tax loss of $2,559.41.

Retailers must possess invoices for all OTP inventory indicating that the Maryland excise tax had been paid to the state by the wholesaler.

To date in fiscal year 2018, which started July, 1, 2017, FED Agents have arrested and charged 130 individuals for various tobacco violations as a result of discovering 122 instances of violations of Maryland’s tobacco laws. These arrests have resulted in the seizure of 149,117 packs of contraband cigarettes and the seizure of 420,607 sticks of OTP. The seized items are valued at $1,391,069.34 and represents a tax loss to the State of Maryland $661,091.33.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community. While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a “pay-wall” style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether it’s a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. — David M. Higgins II




© 2019 The Southern Maryland Chronicle. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.