Search warrant: cigarette smuggling in western Henrico home

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - NBC12 is learning more about a cigarette smuggling investigation happening right now in western Henrico.

Police say they found cartons of cigarettes at a home in the 7500 block of Woodman Road last week. This is down the street from Moody Middle School.

Now the search warrant and affidavit are revealing new details about what was going on inside this home and why investigators believe people living here may have been involved in a cigarette smuggling ring.

Crime Watch signs warn criminals that people living on Woodman Road are keeping an eye on you. And because of a watchful neighbor, police now have three burglary suspects in custody.

Buzzy Lawler almost came face to face with one of them.

"Heard a bit of commotion over here so I looked up just as the guy was in the air right over this part of the fence," he said.

He says police had their guns drawn and Lawler just wanted to get out of the way.

"I'm in the ditch. I'm sort of watching what's going on, peering up like Kilroy and seeing the police officers cuff the one guy," he said.

But this was no regular breaking and entering case, Henrico Police ended up uncovering a lot more when they did a follow up investigation.

According to the affidavit, police say the victim actually allowed a detective inside the home and that's when the detective says he saw cartons of cigarettes.

The detective reports that the victim said he was holding onto the cigarettes for an uncle who owns a store in Philadelphia. He said it was to prevent the cigarettes from being stolen, but the detective followed his suspicions and filed a search warrant.

According to that warrant among the items investigators seized included: 907 cartons of cigarettes, a blue tub containing cigarettes and cash. He also writes that a van parked at the home may have also been used for cigarette smuggling. The detective says he contacted an agent with the Attorney General's Office Cigarette Task Force who advised the way the cigarettes were packaged was consistent with cigarette smuggling.

It is all information now surprising some neighbors, but other neighbors tell NBC12 they had suspected something illegal was going on.

Several people told us they had seen boxes of cigarettes in the backyard and said the yard was unkempt.

Now, it's all evidence that is in the hands of investigators.

Henrico police say they don't want to give out a lot of information right now because this is an ongoing investigation, however they say they are working with outside agencies at this time.

Also according to those court documents one of the men at the home was previously arrested for cigarettes smuggling.

Henrico Police would not say if they've made more arrests.

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