Wallingford, West Haven men charged in largest illegal tobacco bust in Connecticut history

HARTFORD >> It was the largest haul of untaxed tobacco products the state of Connecticut has ever found.

It was found in a warehouse owned by KDV Discounts LLC on Poland Street in Bridgeport.

The five-month investigation by the Department of Revenue Services led to the arrest of 10 people and the seizure of more than $50,000 cash and $234,000 in illegal tobacco, according to Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan.

“Multiple distributor and retail arrests have been made,” Sullivan said.

Pavan M. Vaswani of West Haven, Carlos Beras of Waterbury, Sayed Ahmed of West Haven, Sheik Hossain of West Haven; Joshua Ortiz of Shelton; Quendri Ortiz of Bridgeport, Mohamed Farook of Naugatuck, Arti Patel of Wallingford, Prashant Patel of Naugatuck, and Abdulkadar Shaikh of Stamford were arrested and charged with possession and sale of untaxed tobacco and conspiracy to possess or sell untaxed tobacco.

Sullivan said the distributor and his employees were driving tobacco in from Pennsylvania and Illinois and then passing the products along to 450 retailers in Fairfield and New Haven county who made $13 million in illegal sales.

Those $13 million in illegal sales cost Connecticut $6 million in sales and excise taxes.

“This was a very, very big illegal business,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the investigation is continuing and it’s possible more arrests will be made.

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