Charleston, SC -- Eleven men have been charged with running a multimillion-dollar cigarette trafficking and money laundering operation in North and South Carolina.
The Post and Courier of Charleston reports that federal court documents unsealed last week detail the charges against the men, who were arrested in November.
The documents say the men bought 6,800 cases of Marlboro cigarettes at half their market price from people they thought had stolen the merchandise. In reality, they were undercover law enforcement officers.
Investigators say the men also helped launder money given to them by the undercover agents.
Black market cigarettes are often funneled from states with lower taxes to states with higher taxes, where they're sold at a discount.
Authorities estimate the trade costs governments $5 billion a year in lost revenue.