One of the 14 people charged in a major contraband cigarette probe started by the Stafford Sheriff's Office was convicted yesterday for his role in a murder-for-hire scheme.
Xing "Andy" Xiao, 32, of Fairfax pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and other charges yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Xiao and 13 others were arrested in November following a 14-month investigation that began after a Stafford detective got information about an illegal cigarette-trafficking business in the area.
The investigation, which included federal agencies, revealed the purchase of 388,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes that were sold or destined for sale in New York. The cigarettes were valued at $77 million.
More than $8 million in cash, nearly 40 firearms and drugs--including 32,000 hits of ecstasy--were used to purchase the cigarettes.
Most of those arrested have already pleaded guilty to various charges.
According to court records, Xiao purchased or traded for 15,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes in May 2009. The cigarettes were kept at a storage facility in Stafford.
Xiao told undercover officers that the cigarettes were stolen from the facility and he had hired a hitman to kill the man he suspected of the theft. The man's wife was also to be killed.
Xiao was in jail from June to September, but an associate of his provided information regarding the couple's New York residence and paid an undercover agent posing as a hitman $7,000.
The hitman was to receive another $8,000 when the job was done.
Chen X. "Jay" Jiang, 21, of Brooklyn pleaded guilty recently to his role in the murder plot. Xiao will be sentenced on May 21.
Stafford Sheriff Charles Jett said his officers and others put their lives in danger to stop the criminal organization.
"This was a very dangerous criminal enterprise," Jett said. "The citizens of this region can be proud of [the officers'] efforts."
Stafford authorities said the 32,000 ecstasy pills are a record amount for the area. Each pill has a street value of between $15 and $25, court records state.
The conspirators also sold or traded more than 275,000 fraudulent Virginia and New York State cigarette tax stamps between July 2008 and October of last year.
In New York, the stamps are worth $4.25 a pack.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Fairfax County Police Department were among those involved in the probe.