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Cops Seize Cartons of Untaxed Cigarettes at Smokes Club, Arrest Owner

A Tinley Park woman tipped off police Sunday after she was sold 3 packs of Virginia Slims menthol cigarettes without Illinois tax stamps on them, according to police.

Mohammed J. Awad (left) and Mohammed Darwish | Credit: Will County Sheriff's Office
Mohammed J. Awad (left) and Mohammed Darwish | Credit: Will County Sheriff's Office
Tinley Park police raided a village tobacco shop this weekend and arrested the owner and a clerk in connection with selling cigarettes without state tax stamps, according to a report.

Police confiscated numerous cartons of cigarettes without Illinois tax stamps Sunday, Jan. 12, at the Smokes Club, 7212 191st St., in Brookside Marketplace, after a village resident—and coincidentally, a former tobacco shop owner—reported that the store had sold her three stampless packs of Virginia Slims menthols, the report stated. The exact number of cartons seized by police was not listed in the report.

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The owner, Mohammed J. Awad, 26, of the 8500 block of Meade Avenue in Burbank, was charged Monday, Jan. 13, with a felony count of illegally possessing and selling more than 250 but less than 1,001 packages of contraband cigarettes. An employee, Mohammed Darwish, 24, of the 3900 block of West 81st Place in Chicago, also was charged on the same felony count.

Both are still being held in Will County Jail on $250,000 bond, according to Will County Sheriff's Office records.

Distributors are legally required to put prepaid state tax stamps on all cigarette packs, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue's website. The distributor then collects the tax from the retailer, who passes that amount on to the consumer in the sale price, the website added.

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The state Department of Revenue told police it might pursue civil charges against Awad and Darwish, the report stated.

Police report information is provided by the Tinley Park Police Department and other law enforcement agencies. Charges are not evidence of guilt. They are a record of police actions on a given day, and persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. If you or a family member are charged or cited and the case is subsequently adjudicated, we encourage you to notify the editor. We will verify and report the outcome.

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