ATF agents target smuggled cigarettes


By Todd Cooper / World-Herald staff writer

This isn’t your typical federal drug prosecution.

First there’s the drug: Nicotine, in the form of cigarettes.

Then there’s the way the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives nabbed the defendants — by setting up an undercover tobacco warehouse in Kansas City, Mo.

The result of the sting? A $17million conspiracy unraveled, and 18 people indicted, including the one-time warehouse distribution manager for Ho-Chunk Inc., the economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska.

Federal prosecutors say that the indictments involved a multistate conspiracy to transport more than 620,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes from the Kansas City area to tobacco shops on or near Indian reservations in New York.

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