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Convenience store owner’s murder could shed light on cigarette trafficking

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Chesterfield police say the motive for Abdel Hussein's murder was attempted robbery.  But multiple sources say there's far more to this story than just three suspects out for someone else’s money.

Thursday will mark two weeks since the early morning murder of Abdel Hussein in Bristol Village off Charter Colony Parkway in Midlothian.

"It’s been really tough to sleep at night," said one neighbor who did not want to be identified.  He said people who live there feel as if they've been left in limbo, wondering exactly what triggered the shocking violence.

He said hearing from police that they didn't believe it was random, hasn't been enough to calm nerves.  "I went out and purchased a handgun for home defense," he admitted.

Chesterfield Police continue their investigation, telling CBS 6 they now have a motive.

"It appears to be a deadly attempted robbery," said Chesterfield Police Lt. Randy Horowitz.

But the reason behind that robbery is now one of the main focal points: police sources say Hussein,  a convenience store owner, had ties to cigarette traffickers in New York.

"I'll say we are looking into all of Mr. Hussein’s business practices,” said Horowitz.  “He dealt a lot with cash and we believe the guys who did this knew that."

ATF special agent Mike Campbell says he doesn't have personal knowledge of the Hussein case but could speak in general terms to trends they've seen with cigarette trafficking in central Virginia.  He said new laws have made it tougher, but some are still trying to fly under the radar.

"It's almost like the new Prohibition. We've seen organized crime groups moving cigarettes from Virginia to New York. We've had Asian groups, Russian groups. It's a lucrative business."

Police are looking for three men, who after shooting Hussein to death, stole his car and then drove it to Byrd Park where they set it on fire. If you have any information, call Crimesolvers at 748-0660.

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