Ramadans Due In Court Next Week
OCEAN CITY — Two local residents indicted by a New York grand jury in May for allegedly being the ringleader and enterprise treasurer of a vast cigarette smuggling and money laundering operation with possible links to terrorism are scheduled to appear in court next week.
In mid-May, federal officials concluded an investigation into a multi-million dollar cigarette smuggling operation with raids on two locations in and around the resort area including the West Ocean City homes of local residents and business owners Basel Ramadan, 42, who has been called the “ringleader” of the operation, and Samer Ramadan, 40, who is being called the operation’s “enterprise treasurer.”
Next Friday, Basel and Samer Ramadan and each of the alleged co-conspirators are scheduled to appear in King’s County New York Supreme Court for what the New York Attorney General’s Office this week characterized as routine pre-trial appearances. Essentially, the hearings are the next steps in the legal process during which bond review appeals can be heard, pre-trial motions can be filed and other business of the court related to the case can be handled.
Basel Ramadan last appeared in court on July 9 and continues to be held without bond. Samer Ramadan last appeared in court on June 24 and remains held on a $15 million bond.
At the Ramadans’ West Ocean City homes in the Oyster Harbor community, $1.4 million in large black bags was recovered, along with 20,000 cartons of untaxed cigarettes. Also seized were numerous vehicles and other property belonging to the Ramadans. The Ramadans allegedly conducted the vast cigarette smuggling operation out of their Ocean City properties.
According to the New York Attorney General’s Office, the Ramadans and their co-conspirators allegedly funneled thousands of cartons of untaxed smokes and millions of dollars in ill-gotten revenue through Ocean City and Worcester County from a wholesaler in Virginia to a distribution warehouse in Delaware, from whence the illegal, untaxed cigarettes were distributed to retail outlets all over New York City and upstate.
Immediately following the raids in May, there were no so subtle references to a possible link between the co-conspirators and known terrorists groups, fueling speculation much of the millions of dollars in proceeds from the alleged illegal enterprise could be ending up in the hands of terrorists, but a firm link has not been established. That investigation is ongoing.