By Will Sabel Courtney/The Drive
This article originally appeared in The Drive on Mar. 31, 2016
In a throwback to NASCAR's bootlegging roots—not to mention a severe violation of international laws—NASCAR driver Derek White has turned himself in to Canadian authorities as part of what law enforcement officials are calling the largest tobacco-smuggling bust in the history of both the United States and Canada.
White, 45, was among close to 60 individuals targeted by police in both Ontario and Quebec on March 30 as part of the bust, Sgt. Daniel Thibaudeau of the Quebec Provincial Police told NBC Sports. A chart released by police suggests White was one of the higher-ups in the operation, according to Bloomberg Business.
White now faces seven separate charges against him: three counts of conspiring to commit fraud against the government, three counts of fraud toward the government, and one count of profiteering as a criminal organization.
In 2015, White, a member of the Mohawk tribe who resides in the Kahnawake reservation near Montreal, became the first Native American driver to compete in a Sprint Cup race, where he finished 39th out of 42 cars. Prior to racing in various lower-tier stock car series starting in 2009, White spent decades on the drag racing circuit.
The smuggling ring is alleged to have purchased tobacco leaves in North Carolina and trucked them up to Canada without declaring them at the border, purportedly depriving the national and provincial governments of more than 500 million dollars in tax duties. The tobacco was then reportedly sold on the Six Nations and Kahnawake reservations. Police say some of the profits were used to purchase cocaine, while other tranches were laundered in Europe.
Police stated that more than 70 raids were conducted in and around Montreal as part of the bust. According to reports, law enforcement seized more than 116,000 pounds of tobacco along with more than 1,800 pounds of cocaine, 46 pounds of meth, 35 pounds of pot, and 100 grams of fentanyl, which is 40–50 times more potent than pharmaceutical-grade heroin.