Federal prosecutors in St. Louis say three dozen people from Indiana and five other states have been indicted on felony charges related to money laundering and the trafficking of cigarettes and synthetic drugs.
The indictment returned last week but announced Wednesday alleges the 35 defendants plotted for more than two years to buy contraband cigarettes in St. Louis and resell them in Illinois and New Jersey. Other defendants are from Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia.
Missouri has the nation’s lowest cigarette tax. Prosecutors allege the proceeds from the illegal sales were laundered through accounts of convenience stores many of the defendants owned or operated.
The indictment also alleges synthetic drugs illegally were sold at a various convenience stores, with some of the defendants making the drugs themselves with precursor chemicals from China.