U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Virginia
For Immediate Release
May 21, 2010
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney
Contact: Peter Carr, Public Information Officer
(703) 549-5202 (fax)
Fairfax Man in Murder-for-Hire Scheme Sentenced 220 Months in Prison
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Xing Xiao, aka Andy, 33, of Fairfax, Va., was sentenced today to 220 months in prison for conspiring to hire a hitman to murder someone he believed had stolen more than 15,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes from him. As part of his plea agreement, Xiao agreed to forfeit approximately $2.4 million. A citizen of the People’s Republic of China, Xiao will be turned over to immigration authorities upon release from prison for deportation proceedings.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Charles E. Jett, Stafford County Sheriff; and Rich Marianos, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.
Xing Xiao was willing to kill to support his contraband cigarette operation, said U.S. Attorney MacBride.
This is a dangerous activity, and we hope this severe sentence will serve as a warning to anyone else thinking of engaging in trafficking.
These long-term undercover investigations are uncovering more than just simple tax diversion, said Acting SAC Marianos.
Our agents and law enforcement partners are dealing with criminals who armed and willing to have people killed in order to protect their criminal organizations. ATF agents will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the U.S. Attorney’s office to put these criminals behind bars.
The sentencing of this individual clearly illustrates the significant danger that law enforcement officers faced when dealing with this operation, said Sheriff Charles Jett.
Multiple law enforcement agencies worked together to bring about this day for Xing Xiao.
Xiao is one of 14 individuals who were charged in part of a 14-month investigation begun by the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office that involved individuals paying or trading more than $8 million, nearly 40 firearms, and drugs to purchase 388,000 cartons — totalling more than 77 million contraband cigarettes — to sell in New York.
According to court records, in May 2009 Xiao purchased or traded for 15,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes, which undercover law enforcement had placed in a rented storage facility in Stafford County, Va. Later, Xiao informed the agents that someone had stolen the contraband from the storage facility, and through a series of discussions Xiao contracted with the undercover agents to hire a hitman to kill the man suspected of the theft, along with the man’s wife.
Xiao was incarcerated from June 2009 to September 2009, and a co-conspirator — Chen X. Jiang, aka Jay, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y., — admitted in court that he continued to work with the undercover agents in identifying the intended targets, including meeting with the agents in New York to provide information about the targets’ residence, vehicle, and daily routines. In October 2009, Jiang paid the undercover agent posing as a hitman $7,000 on Xiao’s behalf, with a promise of $8,000 to come in the future.
On March 9, 2010, Xiao pled guilty to conspiring to commit murder-for-hire, distributing 50 grams or more of cocaine base, and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking offense. Jiang pled guilty on March 7, 2010, to the murder-for-hire charge, carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, and distributing 1-Benzylpiperazine, pills similar in effect to and sold as ecstasy, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. Jiang is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2010. A co-conspirator of Jiang, Qin Bing Li, aka Leo, 25, of Brooklyn, NY, also plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute 1-Benzylpiperazine and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 4, 2010.
In addition, since they were initially charged in November 2009, the following individuals have pled guilty to trafficking contraband cigarettes in this case:
- 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.
Contraband cigarette trafficking carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, and not more than three years supervised release. Cigarettes are considered contraband if more than 10,000 bear no evidence that state or local taxes have been paid. This is typically shown through tax stamps placed at the bottom of each pack of cigarettes, which, as of July 2009, cost $4.25 in New York City. With each carton containing 10 packs of 20 cigarettes, the affidavits claim that those trafficking contraband cigarettes potentially earn $42.50 for each carton of contraband cigarettes sold in New York City. According to court records, from July 2008 to October 2009, the members in this conspiracy paid or traded more than $8 million, approximately 160 grams of cocaine base, approximately 39 firearms including assault rifles and more than 32,000 pills purported to be ecstasy (MDMA) in exchange for approximately 388,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes from undercover law enforcement agents from the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office and ATF. The conspirators also sold or traded more than 275,000 fraudulent Virginia and New York State cigarette tax stamps.
According to the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, the ecstasy seizures are a record for the Stafford region, possessing a street value of up to $800,000. In the Stafford region, each ecstasy pill has a street value between $15 to $25.
The investigation was conducted by ATF and the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Fairfax County Police Department, Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Office of Investigations in Washington, D.C. Assistant United States Attorney Steve Mellin and Special Assistant United States Attorney Patrick McDade, who is on detail from the Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the websites of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae and the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office at www.staffordsheriff.com. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.