BALTIMORE A federal grand jury has indicted 11 individuals on charges related to a conspiracy to traffic more than $6.6 million in contraband cigarettes. The indictment was returned on December 3, 2013, and unsealed today upon the arrest of eight defendants and the execution of 12 search warrants.

Charged in the indictment are

  • Elmar Rakhamimov, a/k/a “Eric Rakhamimov,” age 41, of Owings Mills, Maryland
  • Zarakh Yelizarov, age 51, of Baltimore, Maryland
  • Salim Yusufov, age 43, of Baltimore
  • Artur Zakharyan, age 52, of Owings Mills
  • Ilgar Rakhamimov, age 39, of Owings Mills
  • Timur Yusufov, age 35, of Baltimore
  • Nikolay Zakharyan, age 23, of Owings Mills
  • Adam Azerman, age 59, of Pikesville
  • Shamil Novakhov, age 58, of Brooklyn, New York
  • Yuliya Rakhamimov, age 33, of Owings Mills
  • Ruslan Ykiew, age 38, of Brooklyn, New York

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department Special Agent in Charge Antoinette V. Henry of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations and Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The indictment alleges that the defendants participated in a criminal conspiracy to traffic in illegal drugs and contraband cigarettes and launder the criminal proceeds through wire transfers to Eastern European countries,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

“FDA s regulatory standards are designed to ensure the safety and quality of drugs distributed to American consumers,” said Special Agent inCharge Antoinette V. Henry, FDA s Office of Criminal Investigations. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate all persons who disregard regulatory requirements and jeopardize the public health by participating in the distribution of unapproved products.”

The 42 count indictment alleges that the defendants are family members and associates who primarily live in northwest Baltimore County and New York City and operate businesses in the Pikesville area of Baltimore County and in Baltimore City, including Healthway Pharmacy and Europe Restaurant. In addition to trafficking in contraband cigarettes, that is, cigarettes on which the applicable state taxes have not been paid, the indictment alleges that some of the defendants also have distributed oxycodone, sold drug samples, and laundered money.

According to the indictment, the cigarette tax in Maryland is $2.00 per package of cigarettes ($20 per carton of cigarettes) and the cigarette tax in New York is $4.35 per package of cigarettes ($43.50 per carton of cigarettes). Specifically, the indictment alleges that since December 2011, Elmar Rakhamimov has paid approximately $5.4 million for contraband cigarettes, which were received and stored at his residence in Maryland. The conspirators then transported the cigarettes to the New York area and resold them for a profit. According to the indictment, Elmar Rakhamimov, Artur Zakharyan, and Ilgar Rakhamimov acted as a broker, middleman, and distributor of contraband cigarettes, and Nikolay Zakharyan, Adam Azerman, Shamil Novakhov, and Ruslan Ykiew transported contraband cigarettes to New York and other cities for resale. Elmar Rakhamimov and Yuliya Rakhamimov sometimes paid for the contraband cigarettes with prescription and counterfeit prescription drugs, as well as other controlled substances. Elmar Rakhamimov and other conspirators used Rakhamimov s residence and his restaurant to conduct the illegal transactions of contraband cigarettes and drugs. The indictment alleges that Salim Yusufov, who owned Healthway Pharmacy, received more than $81,000 in kickbacks for the contraband cigarette transactions.

Further, the indictment alleges that Elmar Rakhamimov and Zarakh Yelizarov conducted financial transactions involving the proceeds of the contraband cigarette sales, in order to conceal the nature, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds of the illegal activity. Specifically, the indictment alleges that Rakhamimov and Yelizarov conducted wire transfers of cash from bank accounts they controlled in Latvia, Cyprus, and Estonia.

In a separate indictment, Salim Yusufov, who owned and operated Healthway Pharmacy in Pikesville, is charged with illegally providing unapproved prescription drugs from Germany and Eastern Europe and sold them to customers. According to the indictment, Corvalol, also referred to Corvalolum and Valocordin, is not approved by the FDA for distribution in the United States, although it is sold in Eastern European countries, where it is used to treat elevated blood pressure and as a tranquilizer and sedative. Valocordin and Corvalol contain large amounts of phenobarbital, a prescription drug regulated by the FDA. The indictment alleges that from July 23, 2010 through July 14, 2011, Yusufov imported and distributed Valocordin, dispensing the drug without a prescription.

All the defendants except Yuliya Rakhamimov face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes and for each of 18 counts of trafficking in contraband cigarettes. Elmar and Yuliya Rakhamimov face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of 10 counts of distribution of oxycodone and Elmar Rakhamimov and Zarakh Yelizarov face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of 12 counts of money laundering. Elmar Rakhamimov also faces 10 years in prison for sale of a drug sample.

Salim Yusufov also faces a maximum of three years in prison for each of five counts of receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs and for each of five counts of dispensing prescription drugs without a prescription.

Six of the defendants are scheduled to have initial appearances this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Shamil Novakhov and Ruslan Ykiew were arrested in New York and will have initial appearances this afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, Baltimore County Police Department, U.S. Food & Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, and Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Investigations for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Paul E. Budlow and John W. Sippel, Jr., who are prosecuting the case.

Eu wanting to eliminate current electronic cigarettes

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EU Wanting To Eliminate Current Electronic Cigarettes Author Olivia &bull Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

According to the new proposed European Union legislation, every electronic cigarette product that is now available in Britain will be removed from the shelves and banned. In a confidential compromise document draft by the European Commission, it was believed that it seeks to knock over a vote by the MEPs to reject the prohibition of the current form of electronic cigarettes.

According to the draft, officials in Brussels are worried of the dangers in the possibility of ecigs being used as gateway to real smoking. Thus, they would like to include these smoke free alternatives under the new Tobacco Products Directive although there is no tobacco in them.

Enraging Ecig Suppliers

No entrepreneur would be happy if the business is being threatened by unreasonable legislation. Thus, this bid to outlaw ecigarettes really annoyed suppliers from Britain where there are about 1.3 million out of the 10 million smokers who have switched and are now using electronic cigarettes.

Totally Wicked is an ecig supplier located in Lancashire. Its Chief Executive Officer Fraser Cooper accused the officials of the European Union to introduce this prohibition by the back door, non cooperating with the European Parliament.

He said that the unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are drafting proposals that will deny millions of smokers (former and current) of the safer tobacco cigarette alternatives behind closed doors.

A Ban In Town

The proposal came at the same times as a northern France town held the position to be the first to enforce an ecig ban in all its public buildings.

The town was Saint Lo in La Manche in the Normandy region. Mayor Fran ois Digard passed the decree last month of November that essentially outlaws electronic cigarettes. This was after several incidents of complaints from the town residents.

In the country of France, there are about 1.5 million users of the smoke free alternatives. Country officials are said to be still considering a similar ban, but the town mayor obviously made a move in advance because bad tempered non smokers are intensely complaining about ecig users and their billowing clouds of vapor even inside public libraries.

Mayor Digard said that ecigs are not accepted neutrally in the immediate surroundings. The devices emit a bit of smoke and odor that bothers other people, he said.

Banned By Some Establishments

Also in Britain, JD Wetherspoon, a chain of pubs and other train operators have already enforced their ecig bans.

With cigarette smoking highly opposed and intensely stigmatized ecig sales have raised significantly. Like real cigarettes, ecigs also deliver nicotine, but the process involved in the operation of these devices differs from real cigarettes.

Dangerous Smoking Simulation

Ecigs do not produce smoke from combustion, but vapors from vaporization. Thus, there are no tar, toxins and other inconveniences. Considered healthier compared to tobacco by its proponents but heavily antagonized by some health officials.

Last week in Netherlands, the public health institute there has published a policy paper wherein it was claimed that ecigarettes cause the same harm as ordinary cigarettes. They are likewise addictive and have some poisonous substances, the paper said.

In Britain and throughout EU, ecigarettes are not bound by the laws on tobacco since they contain no tobacco.

Officials reportedly, were worried since ecig use closely mimics the act of smoking. They are likewise believed to be heavily marketed to the youth.

In accordance to the proposal, if approved it would ban by 2017 all ecigarettes producing nicotine levels that are more than 20 mg/ml. Supplier claim that all current products would mostly be eliminated if ever.

Flavors that are used in nicotine replacement therapies and all other flavors that attract the youth shall be wiped out, the paper stated. If this ban is approved by 2017, about 5 million ecig users will be deprived of their alternatives and possibly just go back to smoking tobacco.

According to Conservative MEP Martin Callanan, it will be crazy to force ecigs off the shelves. These ecigs serves as valuable support for smokers in desperation to quit they potentially could reduce the number of unnecessary deaths.

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