Police Confiscate 10K Cigarette Packs in White Marsh

Police charged four men with transporting contraband cigarettes during two separate traffic stops along Interstate 95 in Baltimore County this week.

Police arrested four men and confiscated more than 10,000 packs of contraband cigarettes this week along Interstate 95 in the White Marsh area, the office of announced early Friday evening.

At 10:50 p.m. on April 10, Maryland Transportation Authority Police stopped a 1998 Honda Accord at the 63.3 mile marker on I-95 for a traffic violation. Police contacted the comptroller’s agents to respond a large number of cigarette packs in the vehicle. Agents seized the vehicle and 3,140 packs of illegally transported cigarettes, valued at $18,777, according to a release.

Officers arrested the driver, Radame Santana, 25, and a passenger, Kelvin Polanco, 26, both of Brooklyn, NY, according to the release. Both were charged with transporting and possessing unstamped cigarettes, court records show.

On the morning of April 11, police made another routine traffic stop of a 1996 Mercury Villager near the Maryland Route 43 exit along I-95. Police again contacted the comptroller’s agents after finding a suspicious amount of cigarette packs. Agents seized the vehicle and 7,000 packs of cigarettes, valued at $41,860, the release showed.

Officers arrested the driver, Nelson Jimenez of Richmond Hill, NY, 44, and a passenger, Araujo Wilkins Hernandez of Bethel, CT, 48, according to the release. Both were charged with transporting and possessing unstamped cigarettes, court records show.

Each of the men arrested face a felony charge for transporting the cigarettes, including a $50 per carton fine and/or two years imprisonment. Possession of contraband cigarettes is a misdemeanor, carrying a $1,000 fine and/or imprisonment, not exceeding one year, according to the release.

Smugglers are known to transport cigarettes from Virginia, where the tax is 30 cents per pack, to New York, where the tax is $4.35 per pack, excluding additional city taxes, according to Caron Brace, a spokeswoman for the comptroller’s office. In Maryland the cigarette tax is $2 per pack.

"We don't care where they're going—if they're transporting and possessing, it's a felony and we're going to stop them," Brace said.

Between July 2011 and March 30, 2012, state law enforcement have made 148 arrests of alleged cigarette smugglers and confiscated 250,000 cigarettes, she said.

Brace added that it's unfair to small business owners who follow the law to be undercut by out-of-state smugglers who sell contraband cigarettes.

"It's about leveling the playing field," she said.

Franchot praised state police and the comptroller’s agents in the release.

“Each day, they keep an eye out for illegal activity, such as cigarette smuggling. We will continue to pursue and prosecute those who blatantly disregard Maryland's tobacco laws in an effort to protect law-abiding businesses and rid our communities of contraband,” he stated.

Do you agree with aggressive enforcement of transporting cigarettes across state lines? Tell us in the comments.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article referred to the arresting officers as state police. The article has been updated to specify that the arrests were made by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

Typical April 14, 2012 at 02:49 AM
It was actually Maryland Transportation Authority that made these arrests. And they make cigarette, drug, and gun seizures pretty frequently. MSP doesn't need any reputation help and the public still confuses the MdTA with MTA or even still thinks they just sit at tolls and stop EZ Pass violators. Maybe the public perception might change a smidge if the public knew it was the MdTA doing some real police work and not just MSP on I95
Emily Kimball (Editor) April 14, 2012 at 04:55 AM
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I have updated the article to specify Maryland Transportation Authority Police.
Neil B April 14, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Keep raising the tobacco tax and there will be more cigarettes smuggled in.
Typical 2 April 14, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Aren't the toll cops out of their jurisdiction?
Typical April 14, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Haha yeah rumor is they still live in the tunnels.
Typical April 14, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Silly tunnel rats...
Red Dolphin April 14, 2012 at 07:43 PM
oh the public knows, we know what jerks they can be MSP is much more professional.......... just my personal experience, one day i was comng home from a side job I was just getting started in my business, I got to the toll booth and didnt have any money ( i was just getting started in those days I didnt have a credit card to offer). so to speak and got a bite to eat and had no money), not knowingly, i was asked to step in to the office, I was not biligerent and an Officer there beratated me, viciously arrogantly demanding to know why I didnt have a dollar (yes it was a while ago) I told him it was a mental error i spent my last dollar on food ........ , he yelled at me and threatend action if that money was there by mail in so many days, ........ sorry I dont think they can compare to MSP...... or Baltimore county for that matter . they both have much more civil demeanor
Red Dolphin April 14, 2012 at 07:45 PM
im sure not all of them wouldve treated me like that, just that one ego-maniac
Richard Sowers April 15, 2012 at 12:48 AM
First off the state dosent give a hoot for the small business owner that sells cigarettes, the state only cares about the tax dollars. Bringing untaxed cigaresttes into the state is a terrible crime, now many murderers and rapists and drug dealers did the police nab?
Jenn April 15, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I may be off by a little but I believe the MdTA patrols I-95 from Caton Ave all the way north to the Delaware line.
Butch michaels April 16, 2012 at 01:11 AM
I can only laugh at the ignorance of those who don't know what the MDTA Police do. Look at their arrest for dui's, drugs, stolen vehicles, and other crimes. MSP does a lot of great work, but don't bash a department you know nothing about.
Red Dolphin April 16, 2012 at 02:04 AM
I stand by my comment MSP has way more class, and I know formn personal experience, when I was treated extremely arrogantly, sorta like the tone to your comment, "Holier than thou" ! sure they get their busts . and they keep the highway safe no doubt about that,,,,,,,,,,,, maybe I got a " bad egg" that day "cause he was nasty! ridiculed me for not having any money . what a guy!?
Butch michaels April 16, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Pretty bold of you to make such a comment based off of interaction with one officer....no doubt there are "bad eggs" in every department, but I've had run ins with numerous cops who were unprofessional. Doesn't mean that's how the whole department is. If you wanna bash a agency who does quite well for being as small as they are with the responsibilities they have then go ahead. But if you should ever need them, heaven forbid, you could always just wait for msp or the city to respond to you or your family or friends
Red Dolphin April 16, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Officer, swallow your pride . you are not above the law..... citizens dont have to take abuse
Butch michaels April 16, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Officer?? Who said citizens have to take abuse or that anyone is above the law?? I'm sims saying that's it's wrong and immature to bash an entire department based on one encounter with an officer
Butch michaels April 16, 2012 at 03:26 AM
*simplysaying that it wrong
John Doe April 16, 2012 at 04:00 PM
...that's a lot of butts...
Tim April 16, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Same thing happened to me, almost the same situation. I was told to pull over to the side and wait for a toll cop. SHE pulled up and berated me and told me it was against the law to drive on the maryland highways without cash in your pocket.
John Doe April 17, 2012 at 05:11 PM
...and don't try to pay in pennies like my friends and I tried a few years back - they were livid with us and pulled us over to count it for them.
Red Dolphin April 17, 2012 at 05:53 PM
iassume you missed my qualifying comment that was prior to yours ? im telling my personal experience with just one officer true,,,,,,, still its a "black eye" on thre dept period ! As I read on and it seems like Im not the only one thats been given the at treatment Red Dolphin 3:45 pm on Saturday, April 14, 2012 im sure not all of them wouldve treated me like that, just that one ego-maniac Reply
Jim Arrington September 08, 2012 at 06:39 PM
fresh pursuit?


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