Howard County traffic stop nets $40,000 in contraband cigarettes

A routine traffic stop Tuesday by a state police officer in Howard County  resulted in one arrest and the confiscation of $40,000 worth of contraband cigarettes, according to a state comptroller news release.

El-Housseni Hassan, 23, of Brooklyn, was charged with transporting and possession of contraband cigarettes after he was pulled over by a state trooper on Interstate 95 South near the Route 175 exit in Jessup at 11:57 a.m. Tuesday.

According to the release, the trooper discovered 6,000 packs of contraband cigarettes valued at approximately $40,000 in the car Hassan was driving.

The cigarettes were confiscated by agents from State Comptroller Peter Franchot's field unit division.

“This illegal activity will not be tolerated in the State of Maryland,” said Comptroller Franchot in a statement. “I want to thank Maryland State Trooper (Douglas) Deaner for his invaluable assistance in this case. This is a great example of the tremendous partnership my agency has with law enforcement agencies throughout the state.”

According to the release, the transporting charge is a felony that carries a $50 per carton fine and/or a two-year imprisonment sentence.

The possession offense is a misdemeanor, carrying a $1,000 fine and/or imprisonment, not exceeding one year.

"Working together with their colleagues, my agents will continue to be vigilant as we work to arrest and prosecute those who blatantly disregard Maryland’s tobacco laws which protect law-abiding businesses and keep our communities free of contraband,” said Franchot.

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