ST. LOUIS (CN) - Federal prosecutors say 14 people operated a criminal enterprise that sent money to Palestinian territories. The defendants are accused of being members of the "Hamed Organization," and of using St. Louis-area convenience stores as a front since 2000. Prosecutors would not comment on whether the money was linked to any terrorist activities.
Members allegedly sold contraband or stolen cigarettes, liquor, infant formula, computers and GPS units at the stores. Hamed leaders allegedly lied on bank and mortgage loans and fraudulently sold the stores to other members to siphon money off the loans. They sent money to Palestinian territories through couriers who secretly carried cash, jewelry, cashiers checks and business checks, according to the indictment. Prosecutors say that $250,000 went overseas and the accused could have made up to $1.5 million.
Officials arrested nine of the men. Two are at large in the United States, two overseas and another one has agreed to turn himself in.
Charged in the indictment are Bassam Hamed, 33; Ghandi Hamed, 30; Ayoub Hamed, 27; Said Jarabaa, 35; Suhail Jarabaa, 28' Mohammed Badwan, 33; Mazen Badwan, 36; Abdelkarim Badwan, 58; Nael Abdeljabbar, 48; Nayef Lutfeyyah, 66; Mahmoud Ghannam, 46; Mahir Mohammad, 44; Shahrazad Ramadan, 55; and Rayqa Jarabaa, 58.