DEA: Drugs-for-missiles terror deal stopped
Men accused of selling heroin in US to buy arms Hezbollah in Mideasthttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43897821/ns/us_news-security/
NEW YORK — Federal officials have charged several men with using drug money from heroin sales on U.S. streets to try to buy missiles to help arm Hezbollah.
The suspects were allegedly trying to purchase military-grade weapons, like Stinger missiles, with profits from drug sales in the U.S., including in New York.
But DEA agents posed as weapons dealers in the sting operations and arrested two men with the help of Romanian authorities. Two others were arrested in the Maldives.
Siavosh Henareh, Bachar Wehbe and Cetin Aksu have been charged in connection with the alleged narco-terror deal. A fourth man — Taza Gul Alizai — is separately charged for trying to sell heroin and six assault rifles in order to help the Taliban, officials said.
Wehbe and Gul Alizai were flown to New York for trial. Henareh and Aksu are in custody in Romania awaiting extradition.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the case pointed to a "growing nexus between drug trafficking and terrorism which threatens to become a clear and present danger to our national security."
DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart: "We have ... dismantled two dangerous and complex networks; stopped efforts to arm Hizballah and Taliban terrorists; and prevented massive amounts of heroin from reaching illicit markets around the world."
Prosecutors said the meetings took place in Turkey, Romania and Greece with the DEA using confidential informants to help broker the alleged deal.
Prosecutors said that in a meeting in June, Aksu and Wehbe signed a contract to try to buy 48 Stingers, 1,000 M4 rifles and 1,000 Glock handguns.
Officials said Wehbe claimed the weapons were being bought for Hezbollah, but in some cases the informants were posing as Hezbollah members.
Among the charges: conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism, narcotics conspiracy and conspiracy to acquire anti-aircraft missiles. NBC New York is still working to contact lawyers for the suspects.
Hezbollah is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.