Authorities in Ocean City found that the rabbit hole went deeper than expected after busting a cigarette smuggling ring this week.
Basel Ramadan and Samir Ramadan were the alleged ringleaders of a cartel that sold more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes. It seems the smuggling ring covered much of the East Coast – from Virginia to New York.
“We know they made tens of millions of dollars, but so far, we’ve only found a fraction of that,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman while announcing that charges had been filed against 16 Palestinian immigrants.
The Ramadans were taken into custody in Ocean City on Wednesday.
Upon further investigation, officials learned that the Ramadans were connected to known terrorists, including Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind cleric who was sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in a conspiracy to blow up several landmarks in New York City.
“This is not the end of our investigation,” Schneiderman added. “We are following the money. We will work to track it down, wherever it went.”
It remains to be seen how much money is actually tied up in the scheme, but financial records would seem to indicate that the culprits deposited at least $55 million in various banking institutions in and around the Ocean City area.
The Ramadans are now being held without while they await extradition to New York state.
Related arrests also were made in New York City, Delaware and New Jersey.