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New York breaks militant-linked cigarette smuggling ring: source

By Mark Hosenball

(Reuters) - New York authorities on Thursday will announce the arrest of 16 people in a cigarette smuggling ring that included three men who had been under scrutiny because of suspected links to Islamic militant groups, a law enforcement official said.

The announcement will be made at a news conference by New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the official said.

The individuals smuggled cigarettes from Virginia, where they are subject to lower taxes, to New York, where they were sold in small stores in Brooklyn, according to the official. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

The case started, at least in part, because law enforcement officials were watching three people living in Brooklyn who they believe may have connections to Islamic militants.

Further details were expected at the news conference, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET.

(The story is refiled to remove Islamic reference from headline.)

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Eddie Evans and David Storey)

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