Six people were arrested over the past week in Stafford County for allegedly being part of various cigarette smuggling schemes, police said.
Sheriff’s Maj. Shawn Kimmitz said police seized nearly 1,500 cartons of cigarettes and more than $37,000 in cash during the investigations.
The most recent incident took place Tuesday, Kimmitz said. Deputy B.U. Demirci noticed someone purchasing several cartons of cigarettes from the Wawa on Litchfield Boulevard that morning.
The purchaser left in a Chevrolet sedan with Florida tags, and Demirci noticed the same vehicle later that morning leaving another county Wawa with more cartons.
Deputies found 75 cartons in the vehicle, along with $12,000 in cash. Police later obtained search warrants for a motel and a storage locker in the county and recovered 1,200 more cartons of cigarettes and more than $18,000 in cash.
Three residents of New York—Christina Wang, 31, Qingan Liu, 29, and Qingping Liu, 32—were all charged with possessing more than 200 cartons of cigarettes with the intent to distribute.
On June 17, deputies were alerted to possible cigarette trafficking involving Wawa stores in the southern part of the county. Demirci found the suspect vehicle in the parking lot of the Walmart on Warrenton Road.
Deputies found 212 cartons of cigarettes and $1,035 cash in the vehicle. The driver, 34-year-old Zhen Pan of Philadelphia, was charged with possession with the intent to distribute more than 200 cartons of cigarettes and placed in the Rappahannock Regional Jail.
Later that same morning, Kimmitz said, police received information that two men were purchasing multiple cartons of cigarettes at the Wawa at 105 Garrisonville Road. The men purchased multiple cartons several times, sometimes changing their shirts before re-entering the store.
The suspects were found in the parking lot of the Aquia McDonald’s with 70 cartons and $6,013 in cash. Furqan Akbar, 31, of Dumfries, and Hasham Khan, 29, of Falls Church, were both charged with possession with the intent to distribute between 25 and 200 cartons of cigarettes and released on summonses.
Cigarette smugglers have a long history of purchasing large quantities of cigarettes in Virginia and and taking them to be sold in New York and other states where the price of cigarettes is often much higher.