NEW FOR THURSDAY: UPDATE: Local Raids Linked To Cigarette Smuggling Ring That Funded Terrorist Groups

BERLIN — At least two properties owned by two local businessmen were raided Wednesday by Homeland Security officials and New York authorities and the brothers have been linked to an organized effort to fund terrorist groups.

The Ramadan family owns several local businesses in the area, including convenience stores in Berlin and Ocean City, the Village Market in Ocean City and has at least partial stakes in several local franchises, according to business records.

In Ocean City Wednesday morning, authorities stormed a condominium above the Subway on Sunset Drive and Coastal Highway and were seen confiscating items and seemed to be working a crime scene. In West Ocean City, in the Oyster Harbor community, a similar scene played out at the home of Basel and Samir Ramadan. Personal property was seized and vehicles were stripped and seized during searches.

According to the New York Daily News, “Since 2004, law enforcement has warned that groups smuggling cigarettes from Southern states like North Carolina and Virginia, where they are cheaper, to sell them tax-free up north have funneled millions of dollars in profits to terrorist groups.

“Prosecutors will allege the ring was run by brothers Basel and Samir Ramadan of Ocean City, Md., according to sources familiar with the investigation.

“In the last year, the group allegedly bought $55 million worth of virtually every brand of cigarettes in Virginia, trucking 20,000 cartons a week north and selling them — tax-free — in New York City and upstate.”

Both Basel, 41, and Samir Ramadan, 39, were being held yesterday in Worcester County on the charge of fugitive from justice — New York.

Witnesses in the Oyster Harbor community reported to The Dispatch 15 police vehicles from Maryland, New York and New Jersey surrounded the home at 12648 Whisper Trace. and two suspects were reportedly handcuffed and seen face down on the lawn. Additionally, at one point, a suburban rolled into the community and six armed agents ran into the house. Four flatbed trucks were also spotted on site and towed all of the vehicles at the home.

Questions to the federal Homeland Security office have not been answered as of this time.

The Daily News article continues, “The group sold the cigarettes to a vast network of distributors in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and upstate, as well as several other states, sources allege.

Members of the ring managed to dodge $80 million in taxes and pocket at least $10 million in profit, prosecutors will charge.

The group has been under surveillance by the state Organized Crime Task Force and NYPD for months, and search warrants were executed up and down the East Coast.

Investigators recovered three guns and more than $1 million — some of which was stuffed into black plastic garbage bags — in a Maryland home linked to the ring.”

The Dispatch will continue to follow this story.

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9 thoughts on “NEW FOR THURSDAY: UPDATE: Local Raids Linked To Cigarette Smuggling Ring That Funded Terrorist Groups

  1. Go figure. Perhaps if the US government wouldn’t tax the hell out of everything, increasing pricing on items beyond the average citizen’s reach, there wouldn’t even be a “market” for such activity. Just like their losing war on drugs, they create most of their own problems. Go figure!

  2. The whole issue is loss of NY revenue in tobacco taxes. MD or even OC didn’t gain or lose a cent. I need to ask how much did OC’s participation in this cost the taxpayers? It’s NY’s fight, not OC taxpayers. If OC was not funded by these other people, WHY were our resources even used?

    Sorry, being cool isn’t the correct answer.

  3. Since 911 told government that they were shady. Work in the convenience store business. They were always a bunch of crooks. So obvious. Even I figured it out.

  4. J M what the heck are you talking about. It has nothing to do with taxing. They would figure out another way to fund the terrorist groups. If not cigarettes it would be something else.

    These stores will never see another dime of my money and I hope they rot in jail. We should protest in front of their stores letting everyone know what occurred.

  5. Good going, I hope they catch more. Don’t they have relatives from here to NY to what ever county their from.

  6. Why are not more people outraged & mad over this! These terrorist live among us and want to destroy the USA and our american way of life. Think about where you spend your money……DO NOT support the terrorist.
    Remember 9-11
    Boycott these terrorist-owned businesses

  7. I do not understand what all the hoopla is about. The government lets these people come over here and open businesses and run them without paying taxes for 7 years. Look at the largest beach stores in OC. They have been operating for years and have never paid a dime in taxes cause the ownership transfers to another cousin every 6 and a half years or so. Let one of us try to do that and see where you end up!

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