Nascar Driver Faces Multiple Charges In Tobacco Smuggling Operation

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NASCAR driver and owner Derek White, the first Native American driver in the Sprint Cup Series, has turned himself in to authorities on Wednesday. They say it was in connection of being part of the biggest tobacco-smuggling bust in North American history, according to NBC Sports. White faces seven charges, including fraud and profiteering as a criminal organization.

Sgt. Daniel Thibaudeau of the Quebec Provincial Police told NBC Sports White was also interrogated Wednesday. Authorities say Canadian officials and US Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security jointly launched the investigation in 2014. About 60 people were reportedly arrested earlier that day after nearly 70 searches took place.

Sgt. Thibaudeau says the investigation included about 700 officers from both Canada and the United States. He says there is proof that about 2,294 tons of tobacco (158 transports) were smuggled into Canada from North Carolina during the two-year period, with about about $530 million Canadian in taxes not paid.

Bloomberg reported that authorities say some of the suspects arrested early Wednesday have links to biker gangs and organized crime, buying tobacco in the U.S. and illegally importing it into Canada through three border crossings. The tobacco was ultimately sold on the Kahnawake and Six Nations reserves, according to police.

Forty-five-year-old White is a member of the Mohawk tribe, living near Montreal. Bloomberg reports that law enforcement officials speaking anonymously says the man charged in this smuggling ring is the Nascar driver and is also listed as one of the top ranking members of the smuggling operation, according to a chart provided by police.

Lieutenant Jason Allard, spokesman for the Quebec provincial police says profits from tobacco were used to purchase cocaine, and some of the money was laundered abroad, in Europe. Police say they seized more than 52,800 kilograms of tobacco, 836 kilos of cocaine, 21 kilos of methamphetamine, 100 grams of fentanyl and 35 pounds of marijuana during the investigations.

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