Cigarette Smuggling Suspect Conspired to Hire Hitman

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    A Fairfax man at the center of a massive cigarette-smuggling ring has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hire a hitman to kill someone he thought had stolen from him.

    The plea Tuesday from 32-year-old Xing Xiao is the 14th conviction obtained by authorities who broke up the Stafford County ring. The group bought 77 million cigarettes from undercover agents in Virginia and took them to New York, where they fetch a better price.

    In the past few years, federal agents in Virginia have sold more than 250 million cigarettes in sting operations designed to combat increased smuggling.

    "The defendants admitted that they sold illegal cigarettes; dealt drugs, guns; and even hired someone for murder," said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride. "The work of these dedicated law enforcement officers has made our community safer."

    In Tuesday's plea, Xiao admitted that he tried to hire a hitman to murder a man whom he believed had stolen 15,000 cartons of cigarettes from him. He told undercover agents the cigarettes had been stolen and contracted with them to hire a hitman, authorities said.

    The following individuals have pleaded guilty to trafficking contraband cigarettes since they were arrested in November.

    • Wen Mei Zhou, aka Joyce, 33, of Hampton, Va.
    • Ada Mei Lam, aka Mei, 46, of Fairfax, Va.
    • Ting Seng Lin, aka Sam, 44, of Springfield, Va.
    • Qui Xia Chen, aka Chanel, 30, of Annandale, Va.
    • Tony Pong, 44, of Falls Church, Va.
    • Lin Xiao, aka Leo, 29, of Centreville, Va.
    • Wen Chuan Chen, aka Chan, 38, of Germantown, Md.
    • Gou Wu Lin, aka Racky, 40 of Woodbridge, Va.
    • Pin Zong Lin, aka Lee, 36, of Washington, D.C.