YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A routine traffic stop turned up more than 50,000 packs of illegally trafficked cigarettes, Mahwah police said.
Sgt. Michael Blondin stopped a rented Nissan Maxima on Route 287 and noticed several cellphones on the passenger side.
The driver, 52-year-old Hatim A. Mohamed of Richmond, VA, “gave conflicting and implausible traffic plans” to the officer, Police Chief James Batelli said.
The vehicle also was overdue to be returned, he said.
It was brought to police headquarters, where Mohamed consented to a search that turned up 254 cartons of cigarettes in the trunk and back seat, the chief said.
Although they bore a Virginia tax seal, Batelli said, the amount seized is “the equivalent of possessing untaxed cigarettes in the state of New Jersey.”
Detectives were trying to determine whether the seals are genuine.
Mohamed, meanwhile was charged with possessing and transporting untaxed cigarettes, faling to maintain books/records with the intent to evade and not having a New Jersey Division of Taxation license.
He was released without bail pending a Municipal Court hearing next Friday.
Police held onto the car pending contact with the rental agency.
They were assisted by officer from the state Department of the Treasury Office of Criminal Taxation, Batelli noted.
MUGSHOT: Courtesy MAHWAH PD
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