North Carolina farmer convicted in massive Wilson-based tobacco smuggling ring, federal government says


WILSON, North Carolina (WNCN / AP) – A North Carolina farmer has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for a smuggling operation that brought tobacco to Canada.

The US Department of Justice said in a press release that Phil Caprice Howard, 55, had been convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering and filing a false income tax return.

The press release says documents and information presented to the court indicate that Howard made more than 220 arrangements to transport tobacco from Wilson to the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation Reservation near the Canada-U.S. Border.

Once it was introduced into Canada, the “cut rag” tobacco was “turned into contraband cigarettes,” officials said in the press release. Cut rag tobacco is tobacco that has been cut into thin strips for use in cigarettes.

Howard, of Pink Hill, was paid in cash and cigarettes which were brought back to North Carolina, as well as electronic payments, officials said.

In all, Howard obtained more than $ 2 million in criminal proceeds, which he laundered through a series of financial transactions, officials said.

The operation cost Canada over $ 600 million in taxes. Howard was sentenced Thursday.

He must also pay $ 1,062,192 in restitution to the United States government. Howard was also ordered to confiscate $ 2,232,814 as “proceeds of his money laundering activity,” the statement said.


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