United States Announces First Extraditions
OCT 16 --DEA Administrator KAREN P. TANDY and MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that TAREQ MOUSA AL GHAZI and LUIS FELIPE MORENO GODOY arrived in New York this morning after being extradited from Romania on terrorism charges. The defendants were extradited on charges that they participated in a conspiracy to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the "FARC") -- a designated foreign terrorist organization -- to be used to kill Americans in Colombia. This is the first time that Romania has extradited individuals to the United States on terrorism charges. The United States is currently seeking the extradition of codefendant MONZER AL KASSAR from Spain on the same charges.
According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court: Between February 2006 and May 2007, AL GHAZI, MORENO GODOY, and AL KASSAR agreed to sell to the FARC millions of dollars worth of weapons –- including thousands of machine guns, millions of rounds of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenade launchers ("RPGs"), and surface-to-air missile systems ("SAMs"). During a series of recorded telephone calls, e-mails, and inperson meetings, AL GHAZI, MORENO GODOY, and AL KASSAR agreed to sell the weapons to two confidential sources working with the DEA (the "CSs"), who represented that they were acquiring these weapons for the FARC, with the specific understanding that the weapons were to be used against United States forces in Colombia.
"AL GHAZI and MORENO GODOY are charged in a complex conspiracy plot with one simple goal: to kill Americans," TANDY said. "DEA and our partners put a stop to that, and these commanders of MONZER AL KASSAR's international munitions network now will face the American justice system."
During their consensually-recorded meetings, AL GHAZI, MORENO GODOY, and AL KASSAR provided the CSs with, among other things: (1) a schematic of the vessel to be used to transport the weapons; (2) specifications for the SAMs they agreed to sell to the FARC; and (3) bank accounts in Spain and Lebanon that were ultimately used to conceal more than $400,000 from DEA undercover accounts that the CSs represented -- and AL GHAZI, MORENO GODOY, and AL KASSAR believed -- were FARC drug proceeds to pay for the weapons deal. During their meetings with the CSs, AL GHAZI, MORENO GODOY, and AL KASSAR reviewed Nicaraguan end-user certificates that were obtained to make the weapons deal appear legitimate.
AL GHAZI and MORENO GODOY were arrested by Romanian authorities on June 7, 2007, in Bucharest, Romania, as they prepared to finalize the FARC weapons transaction. AL KASSAR was arrested simultaneously by Spanish authorities in Madrid, Spain.
AL GHAZI and MORENO GODOY were extradited from Romania to the United States today to face four separate charges:
In addition, MORENO GODOY is charged in a fifth count with money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956.
AL GHAZI and MORENO GODOY will be presented in United States Magistrate’s Court in Manhattan this afternoon, and are expected to be arraigned before United States District Judge JED S. RAKOFF in Manhattan federal court this Thursday, October 18, 2007, at 11:00 a.m.
Mr. GARCIA praised the efforts of the DEA, the Spanish National Police, the Romanian Border Police, the Romanian Ministry of Interior Frontier Police, and the Public Ministry of Romania. Mr. GARCIA also thanked the Office of International Affairs of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice and the Counterterrorism Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"TAREQ MOUSA AL GHAZI and LUIS FELIPE MORENO GODOY agreed to sell dangerous, high-powered weapons intended to be used against U.S. forces," GARCIA said. "Thanks to outstanding investigative work and unprecedented international cooperation, they have been charged, extradited, and brought to a U.S. court."
Assistant United States Attorneys BOYD M. JOHNSON III, LESLIE C. BROWN, and BRENDAN R. McGUIRE are in charge of the prosecution. The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.