April 25, 2005 - Columbus, Ohio
- ODT Enforcement Agents Make Biggest Seizure of Untaxed
Cigars, Snuff and Other Tobacco Products in Department
COLUMBUS (April 25, 2005) – Recent
investigations by Ohio Department of Taxation Enforcement
agents resulted in the seizure of more than $1 million in
untaxed cigars, snuff and other tobacco products in Toledo
and led to a Cleveland man beginning a 30-month jail sentence
in connection a case involving more than $300,000 in unpaid
In Toledo agents last week confiscated more than one million
cigars, 12,000 cans of snuff and many other tobacco products
from storage units at “Stop-N-Lock,” 5544 Jackman Road, and
at the “U-Haul Self Storage” facility, 50 W. Alexis Road. The
units were leased by a firm identified as IMW Enterprises,
Ohio Tax Commissioner William W. Wilkins estimated Ohio taxes
on the confiscated merchandise would exceed $150,000. The
Ohio tax on “other tobacco products,” which includes
merchandise like that seized, is 17 percent of the wholesale
Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) agents charged Ibrihim
Al-Niqrish, whose address is listed only as the “Detroit,
Michigan area,” in connection with the seizures. He is
charged with one count of possessing untaxed tobacco
products, a fourth degree felony, and transporting tobacco
products without a license, a fourth degree misdemeanor.
Conviction on the felony count could result in a sentence of
up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 or both.
Conviction on the misdemeanor could result in fine of
up to $250, 30 days in jail or both. Additional state and
federal charges may be filed. Al-Niqrish was being held in
the Lucas County Jail pending arraignment.
ODT Enforcement agents believe the tobacco products were
destined to be sold at carryout or convenience stores. The
seizures and arrest came about as result of a tip from
another Ohio state agency.
“The seizure of these products represents another of this
department’s on-going efforts to eliminate the unfair
competition created for honest merchants when someone tries
to sell untaxed products of any kind,” Wilkins said.
Pending judicial approval, Wilkins said the seized products
will be sold with the applicable tax going into state
“The seizure of these untaxed tobacco products was the result
of a six-month investigation conducted by Enforcement
Division agents in our Toledo office,” Wilkins said, “and I
want to publicly commend them for their efforts.”
In the Cleveland case, also last week, Harbi Mustafa, 37, of
6030 Timber Trail Dr., North Olmstead, started a 30-month
jail term in another other tobacco products case.
Mustafa pleaded guilty in late 2002 to charges related to
about $1 million in untaxed other tobacco products. He was
sentenced to 30 months in jail, five years probation and to
pay $1,000 per month until a $306,382 liability in unpaid
taxes, interest and penalties was satisfied.
Recently, Mustafa, through his attorney, asked that the
payments be reduced because he said he was no longer in
An ODT Enforcement Division agent discovered, however,
Mustafa still received large quantities of other tobacco
products from various distributors and that he was a year
delinquent on his $1,000 monthly restitution payments.
On learning what the ODT Enforcement agent’s report, a common
pleas judge ordered Mustafa taken into custody to immediately
begin serving his 30-month sentence and ordered him to make
restitution on his tax liability.
Mustafa could face other charges as a result of ODT’s
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(For more information contact Gary Gudmundson, ODT director
of communications, 614-644-6903.)