Agents from the Comptroller's office confiscated 6,000 packs of alleged contraband cigarettes from a motorist on I-95 South near MD 175 in Howard County on Tuesday.
The motorist, El-Housseni Hassan, 23, was spotted by a state police officer carrying a large amount of cigarettes during a routine traffic stop, according to a statement released by the comptroller's office. The officer called the comptroller's office, which had agents respond to the scene to confiscate the cigarettes, officials said.
They are valued at nearly $40,000, according to the statement.
Hassan, of Brooklyn, NY, was charged with transporting contraband cigarettes and possession of contraband cigarettes in the state of MD, according to the statement. He faces fines up to $50 per carton and up to a two-year prison sentence.
The comptroller's office announced earlier this year that it would actively arrest and prosecute cases of cigarette smuggling, leading to more cases prosecuted in the last nine months than in the last five years.
"This illegal activity will not be tolerated in the State of Maryland," said Comptroller Peter Franchot, in a release. "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."
Hassan's vehicle was also confiscated, according to the release.