February 16, 2017
Contact: SA Timothy Desmond
Phone Number: (617) 557-2100
Israeli National Indicted And Extradited To Boston On Cocaine Conspiracy And International Money Laundering Charges
FEB 16 - BOSTON - An Israeli national and his co-conspirator were indicted in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with a conspiracy to transfer $2.5 million of cocaine from Colombia to Israel via Boston as well as money laundering.
Jalal Altarabeen, aka Glal El Tarbin, aka Jalal Salamah, aka Abu Rasheed, 33, and a co-conspirator were indicted on one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and six counts of international money laundering. Altarabeen, who was extradited from Poland and arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport this afternoon, was detained following an initial appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley. Altarabeen and his co-conspirator were previously charged in a federal criminal complaint, which was partially unsealed today.
“DEA is addressing the threat, both internationally and domestically,” said Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Michael J. Ferguson. We prioritize our resources by identifying and targeting the world’s biggest and most powerful drug traffickers and their organizations. We are relentlessly pursuing these criminal groups responsible for international money laundering and violations of the Controlled Substance Act and their facilitators at every level and we value and appreciate the work of our Polish counterparts. This investigation demonstrates the fortitude and continued commitment of our federal, state and international law enforcement partners and our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to seek and bring to justice anyone who engages in these crimes.”
“This case exemplifies the importance of disrupting large-scale, international drug trafficking before the drugs can be distributed,” added Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb. “I cannot overstate how important it is that we interdict these large drug shipments, where and when we can. Working with some of the finest undercover agents in the country, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to attack the growing menace of transnational drug organizations.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to unraveling complex international financial transactions and money laundering schemes. IRS Criminal Investigation is also committed to following the money, wherever it leads,” stated Special Agent in Charge Joel P. Garland of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation’s Boston Field Office.
According to court documents, from October 2015 to April 20, 2016, Altarabeen and his co-conspirator conspired in Boston, the countries of Colombia and Poland, and elsewhere to distribute 50 kilograms of cocaine and launder money internationally. Altarabeen and his co-conspirator allegedly negotiated to buy 50 kilograms of cocaine from an undercover officer posing as a drug trafficker.
Altarabeen and his co-conspirator agreed to pay $50,000 per kilogram for a total purchase price of $2.5 million to have the cocaine delivered in Israel. The undercover officer told the defendants that the cocaine would be transported from Colombia to Boston and from Boston to Beersheba, Israel, where the defendants expected to take delivery of the cocaine. Altarabeen agreed to make an advance payment of nearly $1 million to cover transportation costs and sent wire transfers from Turkey totaling $999,972 to an undercover bank account in Boston. The undercover officer and Altarabeen agreed that Altarabeen would pay the balance of $1.5 million after the receipt and sale of the 50 kilograms of cocaine.
The undercover officer’s relationship with the co-conspirator began in 2008 and included a meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus. In October 2015, the co-conspirator told the undercover officer about an associate who was interested in purchasing large quantities of cocaine. Eventually, the co-conspirator facilitated an introduction of the undercover officer to Altarabeen.
Over several months, the undercover officer and the defendants spoke to one another by telephone, WhatsApp, video Skype call and in person. The defendants contacted the undercover officer using telephone numbers from Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Colombia. The defendants also discussed the drug transaction with the undercover officer while in Bogota, Colombia, on October 14, 2015 and February 9, 2016.
Altarabeen allegedly arranged six wire transfer deposits in February 2016 into a Boston-based undercover bank account totaling $999,972. The co-conspirator sent the undercover officer a copy of the deposit receipt for each wire transfer via WhatsApp. All of the wire transfers originated from a Turkish bank.
The drug trafficking statute provides for a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $10 million on the drug counts. The money laundering statute provides for up to 20 years in prison, a minimum of three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the offense. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Michael J. Ferguson Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England, Acting U.S. Attorney Weinreb and IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Garland made the announcement.