NEW YORK — Federal officials have charged several men with planning to use money from sales of heroin on U.S. streets 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 the 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.Read the Henerah, Wehbe, Aksu indictment in PDF Read the Alizai indictment in PDF
DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said officials "dismantled two dangerous and complex networks, stopped efforts to arm Hezbollah 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 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.
Jonathan Dienst is is WNBC's chief investigative reporter. Shimon Prokupecz is a WNBC investigative producer.
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