The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York recently announced the extraditions of Siavosh Henareh and Cetin Asku from Romania on charges of conspiring to provide narcotics and, in the case of Aksu, material support to Hizballah through an individual whom they believed to be an associate of Hizballah, but who was in fact, a Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) confidential source. Aksu is further charged with conspiring to acquire, transfer, and possess anti-aircraft missiles.

The indictment alleges that Henareh and Aksu, the defendants, and others known and unknown, carried out a series of over acts for the purpose of brokering a heroin transaction with confidential sources working for the DEA. One of those confidential sources was posing as an associate of Hizballah, which has been designated by the United States Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. From about December 2010 to about April 2011 Henareh and Aksu were part of a plan with the confidential sources to acquire hundreds of kilograms of high-quality heroin to import into and sell in the United States. Henareh and Aksu were informed by the confidential sources that the profits and proceeds from this proposed sale of heroin would be used to purchase weapons for Hizballah.

The indictment further alleges that Henareh received $23,000 from a confidential source and sent the money via hawala from one confidential source in Bucharest, Romania to another confidential source in Istanbul, Turkey for the purpose of acquiring a sample of the heroin to be used in the anticipated deal to sell the drug in the United States and benefit Hizballah. It is alleged that Aksu further indicated that he had an additional 200 kilograms of heroin available for sale in the anticipated deal.

With respect to Aksu, his alleged involvement in the anticipated deal also included providing material support to Hizballah and acquiring, transfering, and possessing anti-aircraft missiles. These charges stem from alleged conversations between Aksu and confidential sources indicating Aksu’s ability to acquire and sell handguns, automatic assault rifles, and anti-aircraft missiles. These alleged conversations indicated the types, quantities, and prices of various weapons. Aksu also allegedly provided the confidential sources with a list of weapons for sales with prices, including anti-aircraft missiles. Aksu also allegedly indicated that he already had Hizballah as a buyer for these products. Aksu and another uncharged individual allegedly entered into a contract worth $9.5 million with the confidential sources to purchase said weapons for Hizballah.

Henareh and Aksu were extradited to the United States from Romania on November 17, 2011 to face the abovementioned charges made in an indictment that was unsealed on July 26, 2011. The government is also seeking forfeiture of any and all assets and funds, wherever located, related to any of the abovementioned charges if convictions are obtained against the defendants.

It is apparent from this indictment and extraditions that the U.S. has confidential sources around the world who coordinate with various State Department and DEA offices in foreign nations. The U.S. has also fostered law enforcement relationships with nations around the world to coordinate enforcement actions and sting operations meant to ferret out those individuals who are willing to provide support to terrorists and undertake various narcotics trafficking activities.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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