9 accused in Lexington of using fake credit cards to buy, smuggle cigarettes

jwarren@herald-leader.comNovember 6, 2013 

Inside the Fayette County Detention Center. Sometimes the jail is so full that some inmates had to sleep on cots in the open area. Officers have a direct line of sight to inmate areas.

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Lexington police arrested nine people in what officers described as a "fraud ring" that illegally bought cigarettes in Kentucky to be smuggled out of state for resale.

Police said they made the arrests Tuesday afternoon at an Econo Lodge on Athens-Boonesboro Road, where they also seized cash and more than 68,000 fraudulently acquired cigarettes worth more than $16,000.

The suspects, most from the Atlanta area, allegedly used cloned credit cards to buy the cigarettes, police said. The arrests followed an investigation by the police department's financial crimes unit, in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service and Nicholasville police, officials said.

The suspects face multiple charges, including theft by deception and criminal possession of a forged instrument, police said.

Police arrested Vante Shepherd, 20; Keon Johnson, 20, Eric Muhammad, 25; Dejuan David, 24; Omar Fandino, 20; Lateef Izuagbe, 31; Deangelo Canter, 22; Benson Brune, 19; and Justin Williams, 21. At least six were in the Fayette County Detention Center early Wednesday, according to the jail website.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the division of police at (859) 258-3600, the financial crimes unit at (859) 258-3700 or Bluegrass Crime Stoppers at (859) 253-2020.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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