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Man in Smuggling Ring Denied Bond

August 10, 2000

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ A Michigan man charged with being part of a cigarette-smuggling ring that allegedly raised money for the Islamic militant group Hezbollah was denied bond Wednesday.

Bassam Youssef Hammoud, 33, remained in custody after U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen ruled he posed a flight risk, pointing to his frequent trips to Lebanon in recent years.

Defense attorney Richard Culler argued that Hammoud is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has a wife and two young children in Michigan who depend on him for support.

Hammoud is scheduled to be arraigned with the other 17 defendants on Friday.

Authorities allege some of the defendants used fake marriages to circumvent immigration laws, then set up a smuggling business to buy cases of cigarettes in North Carolina, which has a low cigarette tax, and sell them at a profit in Michigan, which has a high cigarette tax.

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