Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges International Arms Trafficker with Narco-Terrorism Conspiracy – 20 August, 2009 – PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and MICHELE M. LEONHART, the Acting Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement
Administration (“DEA”), today announced that JAMAL YOUSEF, a/k/a
“Talal Hassan Ghantou,” an international arms trafficker, was
charged with participating in a narco-terrorism conspiracy. The
charges stem from a plot by YOUSEF and co-conspirators to sell
military-grade weapons to the Colombian terrorist group Fuerzas
Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the “FARC”), in exchange for
nearly one metric ton of cocaine.

According to the Superseding Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

YOUSEF is a former member of the Syrian military. From
July 2008 until his arrest on the charges unsealed today, YOUSEF
and co-conspirators in Honduras negotiated to sell military-grade
weapons to the FARC in exchange for 938 kilograms of cocaine.
However, unbeknownst to YOUSEF and his co-conspirators, the
purported FARC representatives they were dealing with were, in
fact, confidential informants working with the DEA. During the
negotiations, YOUSEF’s co-conspirator described the weapons as
including 100 AR-15 assault rifles, 100 M-16 assault rifles, 10
M-60 machine guns, C-4 explosives, 2,500 hand grenades, and
rocket-propelled grenades. YOUSEF’s co-conspirator also offered to sell 17 to 18 surface-to-air missiles to the FARC, and emailed
the confidential informants photographs of some of the

With the full cooperation and assistance of Interpol,
YOUSEF was transferred to the United States after his release
from a prison sentence served in Honduras. YOUSEF arrived today
in New York and is expected to be arraigned in Manhattan federal
court this afternoon.

The Superseding Indictment charges YOUSEF with one
count of narco-terrorism conspiracy, which carries a mandatory
minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of
life in prison. The case is assigned to United States District

Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative work
of the DEA, including its Special Operations Division Bilateral
Investigations Unit and the Bogota, Colombia, Country Office.
Mr. BHARARA also thanked Interpol and the Department of Justice
National Security Division and Office of International Affairs
for their assistance.

The prosecution of YOUSEF is being handled by the
Office’s International Narcotics Trafficking Unit. Assistant
United States Attorneys JEFFREY A. BROWN and REBECCA MONCK
RICIGLIANO are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are
merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless
and until proven guilty.

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