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5 Men Sentenced In NC And SC Cigarette Smuggling

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File photo of cigarettes. (credit: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of cigarettes. (credit: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Five men are headed to federal prison over their roles in what authorities say was a $20 million cigarette smuggling operation based in the Carolinas.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frank D. Whitney in Charlotte handed down sentences Wednesday ranging from 14 months to 18 years in prison. The men were convicted last year of conspiring to sell 486,000 cartons of what they believed to be stolen cigarettes at retail outlets across North Carolina and South Carolina.

Sentenced on Wednesday were Tha’er Ismail Ayyad of Kernersville, Ziad Hashem Najjar of Greensboro, Ahmed Samy Hosney Kareem of Matthews, and Kamal Zaki Qazah and Ahmed Ibrahim of Columbia, S.C.

Six others involved in the ring were previously sentenced to prison terms and probation. Another man should appear in court next week.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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