03/31 2016

NASCAR Driver Derek White Allegedly Targeted In Tobacco-Smuggling Operation     BY:  Chris Knight

NASCAR XFINITY Sereies (NXS) Driver, Derek White - Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

NASCAR XFINITY Sereies (NXS) Driver, Derek White – Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The Bloomberg Businessweek reported Wednesday that NASCAR XFINITY Series driver and registered team owner Derek White was apparently apprehended in the biggest tobacco-smuggling bust in North American history.

A spokesperson for NASCAR said they are aware of the reports and are gathering information.

Authorities told Bloomberg that White was among almost 60 people targeted by Quebec and Ontario police. Allegedly, the suspects were purchasing tobacco in the United States and illegally importing it into Canada through three border crossings. According to the report, the tobacco was ultimately sold on the Kahnawake and Six Nations reserves, according to information provided by police.

White, 45, who has attempted two XFINITY Series races this season is a member of the Mohawk tribe who lives in Kahnawake near Montreal. He became the first Native American to start a Sprint Cup Series race last July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He finished 39th after starting 42nd.

According to the report, while the provincial police force declined to confirm that the Derek White they arrested is the NASCAR driver, Law enforcement officials, who requested anonymity because of restrictions about commenting beyond the scope of the warrants, said it was the same man. White is listed as one of the top ranking members of the smuggling operation, according to a chart provided by police.

It was unclear if White was among those taken into custody on Wednesday. An attorney for White didn’t return a phone call requesting comment, again according to Bloomberg.

Lieutenant Jason Allard, spokesman for the Quebec provincial police, said the tobacco operation was tightly organized. It bought shipments of tobacco leaf in North Carolina, trucking them north and reselling them in Canada. Profits from tobacco were used to purchase cocaine, and some of the money was laundered abroad, he said. The tobacco shipments were not declared at the border and disclosed to government officials, thereby avoiding taxes and allowing the cigarettes to be manufactured and sold for less money.

Almost 700 Canadian and U.S. police were involved in the bust, according to a statement from Frederick Gaudreau, an investigator at the Surete du Quebec.

According to police, more than 52,800 kilograms of tobacco, 836 kilos of cocaine, 21 kilos of methamphetamine, 100 grams of fentanyl and 35 pounds of marijuana were seized during the sting.

The smuggling operation snookered the Quebec and Canadian governments of more than $409 million in taxes, according to police.

MBM (Motorsports Business Management) owner Carl Long who supplies the No. 13 and No. 40 race cars driven by White said was the first outlet to inform him of the alleged arrest and would withhold further comment until he investigated the matter personally. Long did say however, that if the allegations proved to be true, the company would issue a statement in a timely manner.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series is in a two-week break from competition with its scheduled return next Friday, Apr 8 at Texas Motor Speedway.