18 face federal charges for contraband cigarettes

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – A federal grand jury in Kansas City has indicted 18 people on charges accusing them of conspiring to transport more than $17 million worth of contraband cigarettes to New York.

The 43-count indictment, unsealed Wednesday, says hundreds of thousands of cartons of contraband cigarettes were taken from the Kansas City area to New York, where they were sold primarily on Indian reservations. Federal prosecutors accuse the group of running the operation from 2010 until last year.

The indictment says two defendants bought about $17.3 million worth of contraband cigarettes from undercover agents and transported about 620,000 cartons to New York without paying the required $4.35 per pack excise tax. Prosecutors estimate the scheme cost New York more than $8 million in state excise taxes.

The defendants are from several states, including Missouri and Kansas.

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