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Judge Sentences a Key Conspirator in Extensive Tobacco Trafficking Ring to Prison

PRESS ADVISORY

Judge Sentences a Key Conspirator in Extensive Tobacco Trafficking Ring to Prison

June 14, 2012

Sanjay Bector pled guilty yesterday in Gwinnett County Superior Court to one count of Possession of Cigarettes with Counterfeit Stamps (O.C.G. A. § 48-11-28). Judge Ronnie K. Batchelor sentenced Bector to 10 years to serve 24 months, to be suspended upon his deportation. Earlier this year, an immigration court judge entered an order removing Bector to India. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $445,421.00. In addition, Judge Batchelor placed the following special conditions of probation upon Bector:  cannot sell cigarettes, cannot be employed by business that sells cigarettes, must surrender any tobacco license and must not apply for or obtain any tobacco license. 

Bector was a key conspirator in an illegal tobacco trafficking ring that spanned several counties and resulted in 50 individuals being arrested for violations of state law involving the illegal possession, sale and distribution of contraband cigarettes. Bector avoided the payment of state excise taxes on cigarettes by knowingly purchasing untaxed cigarettes which had counterfeit excise tax stamps. 

Bector was associated with City South, a tobacco wholesaler located in Forest Park, where a number of illegal purchases are alleged to have been made. City South has closed since the arrests of Bector and his co-defendants in October of 2011, and their tobacco license was voluntarily surrendered.

“The defendant in this case cheated the State of Georgia out of substantial tobacco tax revenue,” said Attorney General Sam Olens. “Due to the collaboration of federal, state and local officials, we were able to bring this individual to justice and ensure that he was put out of business and restricted from selling tobacco products in the future.”

“ATF’s primary goal in tobacco enforcement is to enforce the federal laws relating to tobacco diversion and protect the revenue of the federal and state government,” said Scott Sweetow, Special Agent in Charge, Atlanta Field Division. “Through tobacco diversion investigations, ATF disrupts and eliminates criminal organizations by identifying and arresting offenders who traffic illegal tobacco products. This significant sentence handed down by the court represents the severity of the crimes these individuals were engaged in.”

The indictment of Bector was the result of a joint federal and state law enforcement effort between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Atlanta Field Division, Georgia Attorney General’s Office, Georgia Department of Revenue, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office, the Lawrenceville Police Department and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department. After a three year investigation by the ATF, a large-scale enforcement operation yielded multiple arrests on and shortly after October 19, 2011. Seven of the 50 defendants have now entered guilty pleas.