United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
OCTOBER 4, 2011 ELLEN DAVIS, CARLY SULLIVAN,
Defendant Charged in Connection with Historic Joint Undercover
Operation in the Republic of Liberia
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, announced that GILBRILLA KAMARA
pled guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge WILLIAM H.
PAULEY III to conspiring to import cocaine into the United
States. KAMARA arrived in the Southern District of New York on
May 30, 2010, following his arrest in, and transfer from, Liberia
in connection with “Operation Relentless,” a joint undercover
operation between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
(“DEA”) and the Government of Liberia.
According to the Indictment to which KAMARA pled
guilty, documents previously filed in Manhattan federal court and
other information in the public record:
Since 2007, KAMARA, 42, who is from Sierra Leone, has
actively sought to recruit South American drug trafficking
organizations to establish operations in West African countries
including Liberia, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone,
and Nigeria. KAMARA has made efforts to corrupt and influence
Government officials within the West African region in order to
establish safe havens for the receipt, storage, and transshipment
of thousands of kilograms of cocaine.
In particular, KAMARA attempted to bribe high-level
officials in the Liberian Government in order to protect
shipments of vast quantities of cocaine, and to use Liberia as a
trans-shipment point for further distribution of the cocaine in
Africa and Europe. In furtherance of these efforts, KAMARA met
with two individuals he knew to be Liberian government officials
–- the Director and Deputy Director of the Republic of Liberia
National Security Agency (“RLNSA”) –- both of whom (unbeknownst
to KAMARA) were working jointly with the DEA.
In a number of the meetings involving these Liberian
officials, KAMARA also met with a confidential source working
with DEA (the “CS”), who purported to be a business partner and
confidant of the Director of the RLNSA.
KAMARA exchanged a series of emails and telephone
calls, and held numerous meetings with the CS and the cooperating
Liberian officials in order to negotiate prices and make specific
arrangements for the secure transportation of cocaine from South
America through Liberia. The shipments included, but were not
limited to, 4,000 kilograms of cocaine from Colombia. In the
course of these meetings, at which the CS was often present,
KAMARA understood that the CS, who was to be paid in the form of
cocaine, would send a portion of his share to Ghana, from where
it would be imported into New York aboard commercial flights.
* * *
KAMARA pled guilty to one count of conspiring to
distribute cocaine, knowing and intending that the cocaine would
be imported into the United States. This offense carries a
mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum
sentence of life in prison. KAMARA will be sentenced by Judge
PAULEY on February 3, 2012.
KAMARA was charged along with ALI SESAY and GENNOR
JALLOH. SESAY pled guilty in March 2011 and is awaiting
sentencing. Charges against JALLOH were dismissed today.
Mr. BHARARA praised the work of the Special Operations
Division of the DEA, the DEA Lagos Country Office,
the Office of International Affairs of the U.S. Justice
Department’s Criminal Division, the U.S. State Department, the
U.S. Embassy in Liberia and government officials of the Republic
of Liberia and its National Security Agency for their efforts.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s
Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S.
Attorneys JENNA M. DABBS, MICHAEL M. ROSENSAFT, CHRISTOPHER
LAVIGNE, and RANDALL W. JACKSON are in charge of the