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South Florida man charged with international cigarette smuggling

MIAMI - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested earlier today Arturo Marrero, 47, of Davie, on charges of smuggling cigarettes out of the United States.

The indictment charges Marrero with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. He made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley on Sept. 17. The government requested that Marrero be detained prior to trial. A detention hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 22 at 10:00 a.m.

According to the indictment, Marrero and others smuggled cigarettes out of the Port of Miami. Allegedly, he arranged for the purchase of thousands of cases of cigarettes and their transportation into the Port of Miami.

Marrero then arranged for the purchase of other cargo, such as bolts of cotton yarn and office furniture, to be used as cover loads to conceal the cigarettes, which were re-packed with the cover load material. Thereafter, he prepared false bills of lading for export that only declared the cover load material. Then he presented these bills of landing to the shipping companies and overseas customs services. Customs duties and taxes were based on the falsely declared cargo, thus no duties or taxes were paid on the cigarettes.

The indictment further alleges that from approximately February 2001 through April 2006, Marrero sent multiple shipments of the smuggled cigarettes to various European Union countries, resulting in millions of dollars of unpaid duties and taxes.

The investigation was conducted by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations in Miami and the German Customs Investigation Services, the Irish Office of Revenue Commissioners, Investigations & Prosecutions Division, Customs Investigation, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs of the United Kingdom, the Spanish Guardia Civil and the European Union Anti-Fraud Office, based in Brussels, Belgium.