Man sentenced for contraband cigarette conspiracy

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A man accused of transporting contraband cigarettes entered a guilty plea Tuesday and was immediately sentenced, according to information from acting U.S. Attorney Carol Casto's office.

Fodie Koita, who has been incarcerated since Sept. 23, 2015, was sentenced to credit for time served and placed on supervised release for three years.

Upon discharge, Koita is being transferred to Indiana for additional fraud charges that are pending there, along with possible deportation proceedings through the Department of Homeland Security.

According to a release, Koita, an immigrant from Mali, along with Yahya Willia, drove from New York City to Huntington to purchase contraband cigarettes in 2010. The cigarettes were purchased from "Smokin' Aces," which was actually an undercover storefront staffed by law enforcement agents. The agents posed as illegal brokers of contraband, including cigarettes.

The contraband cigarettes did not have a tax stamp, meaning the conspirators bought the cigarettes at a lower price than if they were taxed by the state of West Virginia. When the cigarettes were transported from West Virginia and sold in other states where taxes are higher, the conspiracy members received a greater profit.

In December 2010, Koita and Willia purchased 2,340 cartons of contraband cigarettes from West Virginia and resold them in New York. Willia was convicted in 2011 and deported to Nigeria by the Department of Homeland Security.

This case was brought as the result of a significant undercover investigation targeting criminal activity in the Huntington area, including illegal drugs and firearm crimes. The operation led to a substantial number of prosecutions.



 
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