- Office of the Attorney General
Media Contact for AG Campbell Secures Tax Evasion Charges in Major Black-Market Marijuana and Tobacco Trafficking Investigation
Thomas Dalton, Deputy Press Secretary
WOBURN — Two men have been arraigned in connection with their roles in a tax evasion scheme related to the large-scale importation and distribution of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products, Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell announced today. The latest charges are part of a major ongoing state and federal investigation into a multi-level organization trafficking unregulated marijuana, untaxed black-market tobacco and illegal flavored vaping products out of Woburn and into stores across Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire.
Samuel Habib, 44, of Stratham, New Hampshire, was arraigned on January 27 in Middlesex Superior Court on charges of Tax Evasion (1 count), Money Laundering (1 count), Conspiracy to commit Tax Evasion (1 count) and Flavor Ban Violation (3 counts). Habib was ordered released on personal recognizance consistent with his previous bail conditions. Habib was previously arrested and charged with Trafficking in Marijuana and Tax Evasion in connection with this investigation in June 2021. In August 2022, Habib was arraigned on additional charges of Trafficking in Marijuana, Possession of Fentanyl with Intent to Distribute, Possession of THC with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, Distribution of THC and Distribution of Marijuana.
Peter Mesak, 32, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, was arraigned on February 14 in Middlesex Superior Court on charges of Conspiracy to commit Tax Evasion (1 count) and Flavor Ban Violation (3 counts). First Assistant Clerk Magistrate Daniel Flaherty ordered Mesak to be released on personal recognizance with the condition that he surrender his passport.
Habib’s 2021 arrest followed a takedown involving several law enforcement agencies executing search warrants at multiple commercial facilities in Woburn, Stoneham and North Reading, as well as locations in New York and New Hampshire. During the takedown, authorities seized approximately 750 pounds of marijuana, 250 cases of illegal vapes, 200 cases of THC-infused products, approximately $540,000 in U.S. currency, four cargo vans and one luxury SUV.
The most recent set of indictments allege that Habib and Mesak oversaw and directed the distribution of ENDS products, commonly known as vapes or e-cigarettes, to retail vape and smoke shops throughout Massachusetts without paying the applicable 75% sales tax. The alleged tax evasion resulted in a calculated tax loss of up to $4.8 million to the Commonwealth. The latest indictments also allege that Habib and Mesak sold illegal flavored tobacco and ENDS products, which have been banned for sale under Massachusetts law since June 1, 2020, in part, to discourage youth e-cigarette use. Habib and Mesak operated through Sam’s International, a Woburn-based wholesale and retail business.
This investigation is ongoing. These charges are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Joseph R. Posner of AG Campbell’s White Collar and Public Integrity Division and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab. Substantial investigative assistance was provided by the Criminal Investigations Bureau of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. This case was investigated by Massachusetts State Police (MSP) assigned to the AG’s Office and the Illegal Tobacco Task Force, with assistance from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, MSP Narcotics Inspection Unit, MSP Troop A CAT, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, MSP Crime Scene Services, MSP Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement Section, the New Hampshire State Police, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, the New York State Police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Woburn Police Department, the Stoneham Police Department, and the Eliot, Maine Police Department.