Ramadan Brothers Back In Court

OCEAN CITY — Two local residents indicted by a New York grand jury in May for their roles in a vast cigarette smuggling and money laundering operation were back on court this week with a defense attorney again reiterating the case is only about cigarettes.
In mid-May, federal officials concluded an investigation into a multi-million dollar cigarette smuggling operation with raids on two locations in and around the resort area including the West Ocean City homes of local residents and business owners Basel Ramadan, 42, who has been called “ringleader” of the operation, and Samer Ramadan, 40, who is being called “enterprise treasurer.” Also indicted were 14 other alleged co-conspirators.
In October, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced the further indictments of Basel Ramadan and Yousseff Odeh, one of his alleged distributors and a trusted lieutenant, on new charges they conspired from behind bars to murder witnesses they believed were cooperating with law enforcement in the massive cigarette smuggling case. The indictment asserts the alleged murder-for-hire conspiracy carried out by Basel Ramadan and Odeh began shortly after their arraignment and subsequent incarceration.
The Ramadans and their alleged co-conspirators in the cigarette smuggling case were back in King’s County, N.Y. Supreme Court on Wednesday for another in a series of pre-trial appearances. Immediately following the raids in May, there were references made to a possible link between the co-conspirators and known terrorists groups, fueling speculation much of the millions of dollars in proceeds from the cigarette smuggling operation could be ending up in the hands of terrorists, but no firm link has been identified and it now appears prosecutors in New York are backing off that issue.
Basel Ramadan’s attorney Alex Spiro said on Thursday his client’s latest appearance on Wednesday provided him with an opportunity to get some issues into the record, including a denial of any possible link to terrorism.
“The case was on for update,” he said. “The government concedes that this case has nothing to do with terrorism.”
Spiro said the next step in the process will be getting Basel Ramadan cleared of any wrongdoing in the alleged murder-for-hire indictment.
“We expect him to be fully exonerated of that charge. The case has always been and is nothing more than cigarettes,” Spiro said.

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