LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Texas man was arrested last week after Arkansas State Police and Arkansas Tobacco Control agents said they seized a record-breaking amount of illegal cigarettes.
Authorities said that an ASP Trooper stopped a cargo van on Interstate 40 near Carlisle Thursday, Oct. 12, and seized more than 3,270 cartons of cigarettes. ASP officials said the seizure included 32,671 packs of untaxed cigarettes valued at more than $311,000.
State troopers said 35-year-old Ali Ali Ashabi of El Paso, Texas, was arrested and taken to the Lonoke County Detention Facility. Authorities said he is facing charges of possession of untaxed tobacco and unauthorized use of another person’s property to facilitate certain crimes.
Tobacco Control operates under the Department of Finance and Administration’s Regulatory Division. Trent Minner, the administrator of the DFA’s Regulatory Division, said that officials believe that the seizure was the largest in Arkansas.
“This stop is a testament to the importance of strong relationships among law enforcement organizations,” Minner said. “Our partners at State Police immediately contacted Tobacco Control, allowing an agent to arrive on scene quickly. As a result, we made what we believe is the largest seizure of illegal and untaxed cigarettes in Arkansas, saving the state a significant amount of tax revenue.”
Special agents said the cargo van was also seized along with the cigarettes.