Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP/KMOX) – Federal prosecutors say three dozen people from six states have been indicted in Missouri on felony charges related to trafficking of money laundering and the trafficking of cigarettes and synthetic drugs.

The indictment returned last week but announced Wednesday alleges the 35 defendants plotted for more than two years to buy contraband cigarettes in St. Louis and resell them in Illinois and New Jersey. Other defendants are from North Carolina, Indiana and Virginia.

KMOX’s Kevin Killeen says 15 of the suspects are from the area.

Missouri has the nation’s lowest cigarette tax. DEA Special Agent in Charge Jim Shroba says many of the suspects have family ties – four brothers operating five convenience stores throughout the city.

“In this investigation, we eliminated the entire group. From the tail to the head,” Shroba says. “So, everyone that’s involved in this operation has been apprehended and arrested.”

The indictment also alleges synthetic drugs illegally were sold at a various convenience stores, with some of the defendants making the drugs themselves with precursor chemicals from China – then mixing it into a finished product at a farm lab in Dittmer, Missouri.

Federal agents seized 200 pounds of synthetic drugs, along with guns and cash.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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