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Home > Press Page

Wednesday, October 16, 2013Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart today announced the arrest of a man who is charged with possessing more than a 1,000 packs of contraband cigarettes.

Mohammad NakhlehSheriff’s Police arrested 21-year-old Mohammad Nakhleh at approximately 11:25 p.m. Monday in the 9500 block of South 85th Court in Hickory Hills after officers found 128 cartons – 1,280 packs – of cigarettes with Indiana tax stamps in his vehicle. Officers had pulled the vehicle over for not having a front license plate and discovered the contraband cigarettes during a consented search of the car.

Nakhleh, of Oak Lawn, was charged Tuesday with unlawful possession of more than a 1,000 packs of contraband cigarettes, a class 3 felony. His bond was set at $40,000 during a hearing Wednesday morning at the Bridgeview Courthouse. His next court date is scheduled for November 6th.

In addition to the criminal charge, Nakhleh was fined $36,000 by the Cook County Department of Revenue.

“Law enforcement crackdowns on illegal cigarette operations return millions in tax revenue to County coffers,” said Sheriff Dart. “Sheriff’s Police will continue partnering with the President’s Office to ensure that all Cook County cigarette purchases are above board.”

“Cigarette tax smuggling is a lucrative black-market enterprise,” President Preckwinkle said. “We will continue to work with Sheriff Dart to crack down on illegal cigarette sales and smuggling in Cook County.”

The County continues to make cigarette tax enforcement a major focus in the FY 2014 budget, anticipating $133 million in tobacco tax. Since taking office, the President’s administration has worked with the Sheriff’s office on enforcement efforts to reduce average annual tobacco tax revenue declines from 14.8 percent to roughly 2.8 percent, and expects almost no decline in 2014. The County has increased the number of inspections it performs, which have resulted in larger confiscations and increased collection of tax fines.

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