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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Three Iowans Admit to Weapons-Shipping Plan

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CN) - Three Iowa family members pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to illegally ship firearms to Lebanon, the Justice Department said.

The plan was uncovered in March of last year when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security intercepted a shipment of guns and ammunition hidden within Bobcat vehicles intended to go overseas.

The government intercepted another shipment last May, recovering a total of 152 firearms in the two shipments.

Ali Afif Al Herz, his son Adam Ben Ali Al Herz, and his daughter-in-law Sara Zeaiter, all admitted to dealing in firearms without a license, shipping firearms in interstate commerce, making false statements to firearms dealers, and conspiring to commit money laundering, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday.

The three family members also each pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act.

On Monday, a fourth conspirator, Al Herz's other son, Bassem, notified prosecutors that he also intends to plead guilty, according to local news reports.

Adam Al Herz, 23, and Zeaiter, 25, could face up to 45 years in prison and a $1.7 million fine.

Ali Afif Al Herz, 51, faces up to 55 years and a $2 million fine because, in addition to the other charges, he had also illegally possessed firearms after being convicted of domestic violence.

The Herz family members are U.S. citizens, and Zeaiter is a legal resident, according to the Justice Department.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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