(KMOV) A federal grand jury has indicted 35 store owners on federal conspiracy charges for trafficking contraband cigarettes, distributing controlled substances and money laundering.
According to reports, the suspects conspired for more than 2 years to buy contraband cigarettes in St. Louis, a low tax market, while transporting and distributing them in Chicago, Illinois, and New Jersey, which are high tax markets.
The store owners are accused of using several convenience stores that they operated to create the appearance of legal cigarette purchases.
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Illegal profits form the contraband cigarette sales were laundered through accounts associated with the stores.