Police Arrest Nine in Cigarette Ring

Reported by: Paris Lewbel
Set Text Size SmallSet Text Size MediumSet Text Size LargeSet Text Size X-Large
Updated: 11/06/2013 8:04 am
Police in Lexington and Nicholasville joined the U.S. Secret Service to arrest nine people and seize cash and cigarettes from a Lexington hotel.

Lexington Police say the nine suspects are from Atlanta. They're accused of using cloned credit cards to buy cigarettes. Authorities seized more than 68,000 cigarettes from the Econo Lodge on Athens Boonesboro Road. The cigarettes are believed to have a street value of more than $16,000.

According to police, the group re-encoded stolen credit card numbers onto phony cards and purchased cartons of cigarettes from the Lexington area. Then according to court documents, the cartons were taken back to Atlanta to be sold.

"They were going to gas stations, grocery stores and other places with these cloned credit cards to buy these cigarettes," says Lexington Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts.

Kentucky has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the country, stores across the Bluegrass are becoming the target of scammers.

The Fayette Cigar Store has a staple on Main Street for more than a century, and recently, owner Dale Fergurson says he's also been a victim of credit card fraud.

"He presented a credit card," says Fergurson. "We ran it through and about four days later we got a notice from the credit card company stating that the charge was being challenged."

Police haven't said if these scammers targeted the Fayette cigar store.

The low taxes mean big bucks for scammers who take the cigarettes to other states, Ferguson says. "Today, a semi of cigarettes [a week], you'd be talking something in the neighborhood of three million dollars -- you get the concept real quick, it's a big business."

Vante Shepherd, Keon Johnson, Eric Muhammad, Dejuan David, Omar Fandino, Lateef Izuagbe, Deangelo Canter, Benson Brune, and Justin Williams are charged with Engaging in Organized Crime, Theft by Deception and 2nd Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument. All nine men are scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

Most Popular
Coroner: Elderly Mercer Co. Couple Die in Apparent Murder-Suicide
The Mercer County Coroner has confirmed that an elderly couple were found dead in their home Sunday night following an apparent murder-suicide.
Former High School Football Coach Charged with Sodomy, Sexual Abuse
According to deputies in Pulaski County, a former high school football coach has been arrested on charges of sodomy and sexual abuse.
Police: Shots Fired Near Lexington School
Lexington Police said shots were fired Monday afternoon near Lafayette High School. Although school had been out for the Labor Day holiday, youth football tournament was being held at Lafayette. Video Video
UPDATE: Name Of Victim In Fatal Lexington Crash Released
The name of the woman killed in a Lexington crash early Saturday morning has been released.
Lexington PD: Argument Between Neighbors Results in Gunfire
An argument between neighbors escalated to at least one shot being fired Monday afternoon, according to Lexington Police. Video Video
Inergize Digital This site is hosted and managed by Inergize Digital.

WTVQ.com supports children's privacy rights. All persons under the age of 13 MUST have parental permission to use this website and direct parental supervision is strongly recommended.