Three men have been arrested in connection with the 2012 murder of rapper Lil Phat.

The 19-year-old hip-hop star, real name Melvin Vernell Iii, was found dead in a parked car in Atlanta, Georgia, on 7 June last year (12) after suffering multiple gunshot wounds.

Local authorities have now made a break in the case and taken three suspects into custody - convicted Russian mobster Mani Chulpayev, and two hitmen he reportedly hired from Alabama.

District Attorney Paul Howard believes the rising rapper was murdered after he was charged with allegedly receiving a stolen car from businessman Chulpayev just before his death, according to local Tv station Channel 2 Action News.