Port Authority police arrested two men at the George Washington Bridge Monday morning in connection with an alleged attempt to transport untaxed cigarettes to bodegas in Manhattan and the Bronx, officials said Tuesday.
Officers Michael Brennan and Ryan Ust were patrolling the “High Occupancy Vehicle” (HOV) lane, which requires three or more occupants in a vehicle between 7 and 9 a.m. and leads to the upper level of the bridge, just after 8 a.m. Monday, when they pulled an SUV over with just two people in it, according to Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman.
After stopping the SUV, the officers noticed two large boxes on the rear passenger seats and asked the two men what was in them, Coleman said.
“[They] initially said the boxes contained canned goods that they were transporting to a store, but the officers believed the boxes didn’t appear to be of the size and shape that typically handle canned goods,” he said, adding that after further questioning, the driver of the SUV opened the boxes, revealing 400 cartons of Newport cigarettes.
“The officers subsequently found that the cigarettes were being illegally transported from Virginia to bodegas in Manhattan and the Bronx without being subject to New York State taxes,” Coleman said.
Sadeq Abdo A. Abdulla, 28, of Delano, CA and Tariq A. Alsayedi, 32, of New York were charged with transporting untaxed cigarettes and disobeying traffic signs for the alleged HOV lane infraction.
Abdulla and Alsayedi each posted $2,500 bail and were released pending a Nov. 13 court hearing.