International Arms Trafficker Charged with Narco-Terrorism in New York
Posted: August 21, 2009
A former member of the Syrian military has been charged with conspiring to supply a terrorist organization in Colombia with military-grade weapons in exchange for nearly 1 ton of cocaine.
Jamal Yousef pleaded not guilty in a New York federal court to one charge of narco-terrorism conspiracy on August 19, 2009. Yousef allegedly planned to supply a cache of weapons to members of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionaras de Colombia (FARC), a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Yousef, who is also known as Talal Hassan Ghantou, is charged with planning to supply informants of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration posing as members of the FARC with more than 200 assault rifles, C-4 explosives, 2,500 hand grenades and a number of rocket-propelled grenades, according to the Department of Justice. An unidentified co-conspirator also offered to provide 17 surface-to-air missiles to the FARC, described by the U.S. Treasury Department as a "deadly narco-terrorist organization."
Negations to exchange the weapons for 938 kilograms of cocaine began in Honduras in July 2008 when Yousef and his partners e-mailed images of the weapons to the purported FARC representatives, according to the Department of Justice. Yousef reportedly claimed the weapons were stolen in Iraq with the help of his cousin, a member of Hezbollah.
Yousef was arrested and imprisoned in Honduras on separate charges before the transaction took place. He was immediately transferred to the U.S. after serving his prison sentence in Honduras.