Derek White arrest the latest in NASCAR’s darker history – Sporting News

At 45, White is Mohawk, a member of that First Nations tribe and born in Quebec. Records show he spent years in drag racing before entering what was then the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in 2009.

White drove well enough in the Canadian series that he was its rookie of the year in 2010. There is a NASCAR web page on White from that season. There also is a 2009 YouTube PR video of White racing. 

White was one of 60 people apprehended this week in a joint U.S.-Canadian sting operation into a smuggling ring. Not heroin, not cocaine, not marijuana, but tobacco.

Long a staple agricultural product, tobacco has a well-deserved reputation as a health danger. It is a restricted product governed in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration. It also is taxed.

Smuggling is a worldwide problem, with estimates that more than 10 percent of tobacco used worldwide was illegally carried from field to user. 

White, in a story first reported by Bloomberg, was among people Canadian officials found to be carrying tobacco from the United States, often North Carolina, to Canada through three border crossings. Tobacco was then sold on First Nations reservations, and profits were allegedly used to buy drugs.

Other members of the scheme, according to Bloomberg, were members of biker gangs and mobs.

White isn’t the first motorsports driver arrested for illegal activities. NASCAR, according to origin stories, grew from racing between moonshiners. Over the years, motorsports drivers have tried to pay for their expenses with various forms of illegal activities.

So now White faces seven charges in what is being called the biggest crackdown on tobacco smuggling in North America. 

The numbers involved are staggering. In the Bloomberg report, Quebec police Sgt. Daniel Thibaudeau said nearly 2,300 tons of tobacco were carried over the border in 158 trips over two years. Smugglers avoided $530 million Canadian, or more than $404 million U.S., in taxes.

White, a small-timer in NASCAR, was allegedly involved in a big-time criminal enterprise.