Traffic Stop Leads to Cigarette Smuggling Arrests - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Traffic Stop Leads to Cigarette Smuggling Arrests

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Police said a Thursday traffic stop led to the seizure of 205 cartons of cigarettes bearing Virginia tax stamps along with $11,539 in cash. (Photo: Delaware State Police) Police said a Thursday traffic stop led to the seizure of 205 cartons of cigarettes bearing Virginia tax stamps along with $11,539 in cash. (Photo: Delaware State Police)
Konstantinos Tsolatis Konstantinos Tsolatis
Panagiotis Tzathas Panagiotis Tzathas

GEORGETOWN, Del.- Delaware State Police say a Georgetown traffic stop has led to the arrests of two New York men for cigarette smuggling. 
 
Police said the incident occurred at around 2:30 p.m. Thursday as a trooper on patrol in the area of South DuPont Boulevard (US113) and Arrow Safety Road observed a 1995 Jeep Cherokee without two working taillights. A traffic stop was conducted and contact was made with the driver, Konstantinos Tsolatis, 63, and passenger, Panagiotis Tzathas, 72, both of Astoria, NY. Authorities said that when the trooper initially approached to the vehicle, filled trash bags were observed through the rear windows and loose cartons of cigarettes were scattered throughout the rear of the vehicle.

Police said a further investigation and a search of the vehicle revealed the occupants were in possession of a total of 205 cartons of cigarettes bearing Virginia tax stamps along with $11,539 in cash. 

Both suspects were taken into custody and the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement was notified and responded to Troop 4 to assume the investigation. 

According to police, DATE agents determined that the 205 cartons were obtained in Virginia and were being transported to an unknown destination. 

Authorities said DATE agents seized the cash and the Jeep Cherokee and charged both Tsolatis and Tzathas with possession of untaxed cigarettes, attempting to evade Delaware excise tax, and  second-degree conspiracy.  Tsolatis was also charged with driving without a valid license and operating a motor vehicle without taillights. Both were released on a $4,500 unsecured bond pending future court action.

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