TAMPA SMUGGLED CIGARETTE SCHEME UP IN SMOKE, ARRESTED ARE KHALDOUN "TONY" KHAWAJA AND 5 OTHERS, A SEARCH WARRANT WAS SERVED AT THE MAIN STREET GROCERY.. TAMPA, FL--A scheme to facilitate the theft and resale of smuggled cigarettes has been uncovered as the result of an ongoing criminal investigation run by the Tampa Bay Regional Domestic Security Task Force (RDSTF).
RDSTF investigators also identified a suspect who solicited undercover agents for help in procuring sex from children.
According to Lance Newman, Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent in charge and, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, RDSTF co-chairs, intelligence collected by law enforcement agencies throughout the United States indicated that the proceeds from the sale of stolen property, particularly SMUGGLED CIGARETTES and BABY FORMULA in convenience stores, have allegedly been forwarded to foreign groups associated with funding terrorist organizations (like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad which has numerous links in Tampa).
Store owners "fencing" stolen/smuggled cigarettes and baby formula reap substantial profits because the retail value of the stolen goods is substantially higher than prices paid to the thieves. Based on these circumstances, the Tampa Bay RDSTF initiated an investigation.
In February 2004, the Tampa Bay RDSTF received information from the Jacksonville RDSTF that a Tampa resident, Adil Abdel Hader, 58, was allegedly involved in an organized criminal enterprise that purchased stolen cigarettes derived from "smash and grab" burglaries throughout Central Florida. Through a series of undercover operations, agents identified suspects, including Hader, who purchased stolen cigarettes at prices well below wholesale value and resold them through convenience stores whom Hader either controlled or with whom he was associated. Smuggled Cigarettes totaling approximately $45,000 in value were purchased by suspects who were told they had been stolen.
Contacts with Hader also led to the revelation that Hader was allegedly interested in procuring young children for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with them. On at least four occasions, sometimes in graphic detail, Hader told undercover officers that he was interested in sex with young girls and boys and that he would be willing to pay for the arranged meetings.
SAC Newman stated that "while we are not accusing anyone of terrorist activity, we want to send a clear message that the RDSTF is proactively looking at people and businesses that engage in activities that have historically supported groups sympathetic to terrorist organizations."
A list of suspects arrested and charges follows (these men pled out and were put on Florida State felony probation):
Abil Abdel Hader 08/19/47 Solicitation to Commit Sexual Battery Dealing in Stolen Property.
Search warrants were executed at the Main Street Grocery, 2117 W. Main Street, Tampa; Bearss Meat and Groceries, 1450 N. Skipper Rd. #48, Tampa; Price is Right Market, 4008 N. 34th Street, Tampa; Ybor Restaurant, 3402 N. 15th Street, Tampa and Sav-Mor Market, 1900 N. Rome Ave., Tampa.
Bill Warner private investigator at http://www.wbipi.com/