Powhatan couple accused of cigarette trafficking out on bond - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Powhatan couple accused of cigarette trafficking out on bond


A Powhatan couple is facing charges in federal court accused of trafficking contraband cigarettes. They waived their right to a preliminary hearing today and remain out on bond.

According to court documents, investigators say they watched the couple for almost a year. It's all documented in a 72-page affidavit.

The owners of two tobaccos stores in Chesterfield County, Cigarette America at Westchester and Cigarettes America Plus on Robious Road, are in trouble with the law. Investigators accuse Loveleen and Jayant Khare of trafficking contraband cigarettes.

Court documents show investigators started watching the couple in September 2011.  Officers say large quantities of cigarettes bought at wholesale prices ended up at the couple's Powhatan home on Dorset Ridge Circle and not in the stores.

According to court documents, officers say they watched Loveleen take the cigarettes from her business and bring them to her home. Then at night, cigarettes would be loaded into vehicles from out of state.

"I hope this is not true, because I like them all. They are all really good people," says Amira Kirkman, a neighbor.

She lives across the street and says she saw police raid the home a couple weeks ago.

"The whole neighborhood was just filled with cops and cars all over," she said.

Among the incidents officers document, Loveleen was seen buying dozens of cases of cigarettes from the Costco on Mall Drive. The documents say that night, two men - later identified as Mohammed and Osama Issa - loaded the smokes into a car and took off. It says troopers stopped them 200 miles away in Maryland. Stashed in the car were more than 25,000 packs of cigarettes.

The feds also got a hold of the couple's bank records. A documented interview with one bank teller says, "'Loveleen Khare's deposits always stay below $10,000 and the currency in denominations of $20's and $10's." Court documents show in less than a year, $4-million dollars was split among five bank accounts. Investigators say those were profits from illegally trafficking cigarettes to other states.

The couple waived their right to a preliminary hearing in federal court on Thursday. This means an indictment could be served in the next month.

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