NY authorities probe money trail in smuggling ring

In this March 18, 2013 file photo cigarette packs are displayed for sale at a convenience store in New York. No one under 21 would be able to buy cigarettes in New York City under a proposal unveiled Monday, April 22, 2013 to make the city the most populous place in America to set the minimum age that high. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

In this March 18, 2013 file photo cigarette packs are displayed for sale at a convenience store in New York. No one under 21 would be able to buy cigarettes in New York City under a proposal unveiled Monday, April 22, 2013 to make the city the most populous place in America to set the minimum age that high. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, file)

NEW YORK (AP) -- A smuggling ring that made a fortune selling more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York may have funneled some of the illicit proceeds to terrorist groups, authorities said Thursday.

The traffickers lived modestly and had alleged links to known terrorists, including Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric serving a life sentence for a conspiracy to blow up New York City landmarks. That combination has raised concerns about where the money went.

"We know they made tens of millions of dollars but so far we've only found a fraction of that," state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said while announcing enterprise corruption and other charges against 16 people, all Palestinian immigrants.

Two reputed ringleaders, brothers Basel and Samir Ramadan, were arrested Wednesday in Maryland. Investigators found $1.5 million -- some stashed in black plastic garbage bags -- in the home and car of Basel Ramadan, authorities said.

Arrests also were made in New York City, New Jersey and Delaware.


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