A Columbia Heights man who allegedly bought $33,430 worth of wholesale tobacco products in Illinois in February and brought them to Minnesota to sell to stores faces a felony charge of possession of untaxed tobacco products, according to a criminal complaint. Earlier this month, a Ramsey County judge decided there was enough evidence to proceed to trial.
According to the complaint, Hamza A. Abualzain is not a licensed distributor. Authorities discovered him standing next to a rental van filled with boxes of tobacco. A search of Abualzain's cellphone found what appeared to be orders from customers, the complaint said.
By buying in Illinois, Abualzain avoided more than $23,300 in Minnesota taxes, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.