FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday May 4, 2012
LEBANESE MAN PLEADS GUILTY IN MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT TO CONSPIRING TO PROVIDE MATERIAL SUPPORT TO TERRORISTS
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Lebanese citizen JAMAL YOUSEF, a/k/a “Talal Hassan Ghantou,” pled guilty today to one count of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. In December 2008, YOUSEF was charged with agreeing to provide military-grade weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (“FARC”) in exchange for over a ton of cocaine. The FARC has been designated by the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. YOUSEF was arrested in Honduras on August 19, 2009, and subsequently transported to the Southern District of New York. YOUSEF pled guilty today before U.S. District Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska.
According to the Indictments filed in this case:
The FARC is an international terrorist group dedicated to the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Government of Colombia. Organized as a military group, the FARC actively engages in narcotics trafficking as a financing mechanism, and has evolved into the world’s largest supplier of cocaine. The FARC has been responsible for violent acts committed against U.S. persons, and commercial and property interests in foreign jurisdictions – including in Colombia – in order to dissuade the United States from continuing its efforts to disrupt the FARC’s cocaine manufacturing and trafficking activities. From July 2008 through July 2009, in exchange for more than a ton of cocaine, YOUSEF and others agreed to provide the FARC with AR-15 and M-16 assault rifles, M-60 machine guns, C-4 explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and other military items they claimed had been stolen from U.S. forces in Iraq.
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YOUSEF, age 54, faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge John F. Keenan on August 13, 2012.
The charges against YOUSEF were the result of the coordinated efforts of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, the DEA’s Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Bogota, Colombia Country Offices, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA and thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, its National Security Division, and the Department of State and Interpol for their assistance.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey A. Brown, Jenna Dabbs, and Christopher LaVigne are in charge of the prosecution.