NASCAR Driver Charged in Bust of Major Tobacco Smuggling Ring

MONTREAL (CBS NEWS) --A NASCAR driver was among dozens of arrests Wednesday in what officials called the largest tobacco-smuggling bust in North American history.

Officials say professional race car driver Derek White played a major role in an illicit operation that brought more than 2,000 tons of tobacco from North Carolina to Canada -- skipping about $530 million in Canadian taxes.

Authorities say White, who is from Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada, and others transported the tobacco to Canada, where the profits from sales were used to buy cocaine and other drugs.

Canadian officials have worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Homeland Security Department since 2014 on an investigation into the alleged ring. On Wednesday, nearly 70 searches, involving about 700 officers from the U.S. and Canada, resulted in dozens of arrests.

Authorities seized more than 1,800 pounds of cocaine, 46 pounds of methamphetamine, 35 pounds of marijuana, $1.5 million in Canadian currency and more than $3 million in U.S. currency during the operation Wednesday.

Documents released Wednesday depict White, the first Native American driver in the Sprint Cup Series, as a key player in the smuggling operation.

Charges against White, 45, include three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud against the government, three counts of fraud against the government and one count of profiteering as a criminal organization.

Share this article: