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Monday, July 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Taliban Aides Snared in Drugs and Missiles Plot

(CN) - Seven people were charged Monday for trying to sell the Taliban missiles that insurgents could use to protect heroin labs in Afghanistan from the U.S. military, and for agreeing to move massive amounts of drugs in West Africa to fund the militants.

According to the newly unsealed federal indictment and complaint filed Monday, seven people had extensive contact with Drug Enforcement Administration agents who posed as Taliban members. The defendants had a series of meetings with the agents starting last summer in Ghana, Benin, Romania and Ukraine.

In their communications by phone and e-mail, authorities say the defendants discussed the details of storing, shipping and selling large amounts of heroin from Afghanistan and cocaine from Colombia.

Maroun Saade, Walid Nasr, Francis Sourou Ahissou, Corneille Dato and Martin Bouraima allegedly agreed to receive and store several tons of Taliban-owned heroin in Benin, which they would send through Ghana and eventually the United States. They also agreed to sell large amounts of Colombian cocaine to benefit the Taliban.

All of the defendants have been charged in a federal indictment, except for Oded Orbach, who was charged in a federal complaint for attempting to sell anti-aircraft missiles to the Taliban.

Authorities say Orbach and alleged Hezbollah weapons trafficker Alwar Pouryan, the fifth man named in the indictment, discussed specific pricing and training details for the sale of anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers, assault rifles and other deadly weapons.

Five of the indicted defendants were arrested in Liberia earlier this month and transferred to the United States. Orbach and Pouryan were arrested in Romania, where their extradition is pending.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christian Everdell and Aimee Hector. All of the defendants face maximum life sentences if convicted.

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