Lowcountry men plead guilty in $7.5 million conspiracy - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lowcountry men plead guilty in $7.5 million stolen cigarette conspiracy

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

Three Lowcountry men have pleaded guilty in federal court to their roles in a conspiracy to traffic $7.5 million of stolen cigarettes.

Syed Ahmed, 43 of North Charleston pleaded guilty to conspiracy to receive stolen property in interstate commerce. Amer Kamal Quzah, 50, of Summerville pleaded guilty to two counts of false statement to a federally insured institution.

Chandon Podder, 45, of North Charleston pleaded guilty to structuring a financial transaction to evade reporting requirements. Also charged was 26-year-old Mouinuddin Patwary of Lexington who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to receive stolen property in interstate commerce.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, ATF agents began an investigation between September 2009 and November 2011 into the buying and selling of stolen cigarettes. During an undercover operation, authorities say ATF agents sold $7.5 million of purportedly stolen cigarettes to several people in North and South Carolina.

The undercover agents told the suspects that they could get a large quantity of stolen cigarettes and sell them at a "far better price" than was legally available. A report states agents conducted 27 separate sales ranging from a few thousand dollars to over a million dollars.

Investigators say agents received more than $7.5 millions from the sales.

According to authorities, the cigarettes were then offered for sale at stores in Charleston and Columbia.

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