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derek white AP Photo/Cheryl Senter

Success stories in NASCAR are great and all, but what about those individuals who don’t achieve the classic fairy tale ending? Unfortunately for former NASCAR driver Derek White, he’s one of those guys whose stock car racing career didn’t exactly pan out the way he probably would’ve hoped.

White is originally from Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada, located near Montreal, and he grew up as a member of the Mohawk Tribe. Starting his professional racing career with drag racing, he eventually made his debut in NASCAR. Beginning at the lower ranks in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, he eventually ran several races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series, and also had a one-race stint as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver.

White proved he had potential on the speedway, especially after he won the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Rookie of the Year award, and drove his Toyota race car to became the first Native American driver to compete in a Sprint Cup race.

But, we’re not here to focus on White’s racing stats.

Derek White’s Tobacco-Smuggling Operation

As it turns out, Derek White was involved with much more than just motorsports.

Back in 2016, Derek White was identified as one of the ringleaders in a major tobacco-smuggling operation. In fact, law enforcement officials labeled the operation as the largest tobacco-smuggling bust in North American history. It’s estimated that the smuggling ring moved over $500 million worth of tobacco from the North Carolina to Canada. White eventually turned himself into police, and once the news broke, NASCAR was quick to suspend him indefinitely.

While selling tobacco isn’t necessarily illegal, intentionally not declaring it while crossing the border to avoid paying taxes on that product very much is. White was caught after his phone was tapped, and police gathered all the sufficient evidence they needed. As a result, White faced a total of seven criminal charges, which included three counts of fraud toward the government, three counts of conspiring to commit fraud against the government, and one count of profiteering as a criminal organization.

You know what they say: You can’t outrun the long arm of the law. White undoubtedly left racing fans shocked as the story first unraveled. Things don’t always work out for drivers in motorsports, but it’s not everyday that a NASCAR racing career ends because of smuggling charges. It’s unfortunate for Derek, but reality was bound to catch up to him eventually.

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