Saturday, February 20, 2010
Three Miami Fl Men Charged with Illegal Export of Electronics to U.S.-Designated Terrorist Entity Hezbollah front in Paraguay That Aided Terror Leader Assad Ahmad Barakat
2/20/2010, Miami Herlad...Federal agents have arrested three South Florida businessmen accused of exporting video games and other electronic products to a shopping mall in Paraguay that had been run by terrorist Assad Ahmad Barakat, allegedly served as a front to finance the terrorist group Hezbollah, according to federal authorities.
The Miami-Dade businessmen arrested late Thursday, Khaled T. Safadi, Ulises Talavera and Emilio Gonzalez-Neira, appeared in federal court Friday to face charges related to a Treasury Department ban on doing business with the black-listed militia and political organization based in Lebanon.
According to an indictment, the three Miami-Dade businessmen are accused of exporting hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of PlayStation 2 video games and digital cameras to a shopping center called Galeria Page in Paraguay. The U.S. government has designated the mall as a funding arm of Hezbollah.
Hezbollah members operate retail businesses in Galeria Page to support Hezbollah, according to the press release. Muhammad Yusif Abdallah, a manager of Galeria Page, paid a regular quota to Hezbollah based on profits he received from the mall, the statement says. In the Dec. 6, 2006, release, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control said the mall was part of a South American network that aided Assad Ahmad Barakat, who has been on the U.S. terrorist blacklist since 2004. ``Assad Ahmad Barakat's network in [South America] is a major financial artery to Hezbollah in Lebanon.''
CNN Source..Argentine and Paraguayan prosecutors have identified Assad Ahmad Barakat, as the regional operative for the Shiite extremist organization Hezbollah. The prosecutors believe Barakat, who is on the run after an international warrant was issued against him last month, is a major player in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Center in the Argentine capital. Barakat is co-owner of Galeria Page, one of Ciudad del Este's biggest shopping malls, which intelligence sources said they believe he has used as a front for raising funds and recruiting volunteers for Hezbollah. Barakat is believed to be hiding in Brazil or to have escaped to Lebanon.
Two of his associates, Mazen Ali Saleh and Saleh Mahoud Fayoud, were arrested and charged with falsifying immigration documents and dealing in pirated compact discs. In the raid of their Ciudad del Este apartment, the police found more than 60 hours of videotapes, propaganda for Hezbollah and copies of speeches referring to Al Moqawama -- a Party of God cell active on the Brazilian side of the tri-border. A brother of Mazem Saleh was arrested in February in the United States for pirating compact discs. He was convicted October 25. Prosecutor Carlos Calcenas said he believes the pirate CD business is underwriting terrorist activities and that Barakat is just one of dozens of Arab merchants who operate fronts in the tri-border region for terrorism-related activities.
Saturday, November 29, 2008, TAMPA CONVENIENCE STORE OWNER SAMER SALEH RE-ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH 7 FELONIES ON 11/12/2008 WHILE SERVING TIME IN COLEMAN FEDERAL PRISON, TRANSIT TO TAMPA NOW BACK TO COLEMAN. Samer Saleh's partner Saad Saad was arrested in 2003 for dealing in stolen property with the possible support of terrorism at Mike's Food Store in Tampa. Hillsborough Sheriff's chief Deputy David Gee said Saad made $4,000 to $5,000 per week in profit from the stolen baby food scam.
The Saad Saad, Samer Saleh and Marlon Mejia Tampa Money Laundering investigation by the US Justice Dept. started in April 2004, with a Federal Grand Jury, the case, 8:06-CR-00400-T-27EAJ was sealed until October 2007, all the while that Saad Saad was on felony probation.
Saad Saad's co-defendants in this money laundering-narcotics case were Samer Saleh and Marlon Mejia. Saad Saad sent $45,000 to England in $500 individual money orders over a 20 day period in Oct 2004. Saad Saad was purchasing the money orders at his SNAX Food Stores at 2113 E. Linebaugh Ave and 934 E. Henderson Ave in Tampa Fl.
The SNAX Foods stores were vital to the money laundering scheme of Saad Saad as he purchased over $100,000 in money orders from at least two of the SNAX Food stores and sent the money orders to an undisclosed location in the UK.
Samer Saleh and Marlon Mejia were in Coleman Federal Prison, Saad Saad does not appear to be in prison. No listing as to where in England the $45,000 was sent, no city listing in Federal complaint. The Saad Saad Federal Indictment had been Sealed since April 2004 and not opened until October 2007, Saad Saad was taken into custody by Federal Marshals on Nov. 1st 2006.
Marlon Mejia was initially arrested on the same day as Saad Saad, Nov. 1st 2006, he is listed as a Federal Inmate as this time by the HCSO jail records. Marlon Mejia was rearrested on Nov. 20th 2006 by US Federal Marshalls.
SAMER SALEH 49033-018 31-White-M Release Date 03-22-2010 ORLANDO CCM
Samer Saleh was initially arrested on June 6th 2007 by US Marshals, then re-arrested on July 7th 2007 and then again on August 11th 2007 when he is listed as a Federal Inmate by the HCSO jail records.
Initial arrest of Samer Saleh on June 6th 2007 and by August 11th 2007 he is already a Federal inmate with no trial ? Samer Saleh was re-arrested while in Coleman Federal Prison on November 12th 2008. The case, 8:06-CR-00400-T-27EAJ, was sealed for 3 years and 6 months, a secret money laundering-narcotics case ? Saad Saad (SNAX Food Stores) investigation by US Justice Department starts April 2004.
"This international ICE led multi-jurisdictional investigation demonstrates ICE's mission to identify, investigate, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that support designated terrorist entities and participate in the illicit trade of commodities that support terrorist activities and ultimately threaten the national security of the United States," said Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami.
FBI Special Agent in Charge John V. Gillies, stated, "The tri-border region is an area of concern to the FBI and our law enforcement partners both in the United States and overseas. We will continue our efforts to safeguard our national security and economic interests, including investigations of violations of our export laws that harm the United States."
Harold Woodward Director of Field Operations for Customs and Border Protection stated, "The changing face of terrorists and other criminal groups pose an increased area of concern for CBP and by fostering relationships with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies and foreign governments we improve the total security of global trade and travel. Dismantling these criminal organizations plays a major role in insuring the safety of our homeland."
Samer Mehdi, 37, of Paraguay; Khaled T. Safadi, 56, of Miami, FL; Ulises Talavera, 46, of Miami, FL; Emilio Jacinto Gonzalez-Neira, 43, of Paraguay; Cedar Distributors, Inc. (Cedar), a Miami-based freight forwarding company owned by defendant Safadi; Transamerica Express of Miami, Inc. (Transamerica), a Miami-based freight forwarding company owned by defendant Talavera; and Jumbo Cargo, Inc. (Jumbo), a Miami-based freight forwarding company owned by defendant Gonzalez-Neira, were indicted on charges of conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 371, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1701-1706, and smuggling electronic goods from the United States to Paraguay, 18 U.S.C. § 554.
On Feb. 18, 2010, ICE special agents along with agents and officers of CBP, FBI, DOC, OFAC, and the Secret Service, executed arrest and search warrants as a result of this criminal investigation. Cedar owner Khaled Safadi and Transamerica owner Ulises Talavera were arrested in Doral, FL, Jumbo owner Emilio Gonzalez-Neira was arrested in Sunny Isles, FL, and Jomana Import Export owner Samer Mehdi is still at large. Safadi, Talavera and Gonzalez-Neira had their initial appearances today. Gonzalez-Neira was held in pre-trial detention, and Safadi and Talavera are being held in pre-trial detention pending their bond hearings, which are scheduled for Monday, March 1, 2010, at 10:00 a.m.
According to the allegations in the Indictment, from at least as early as March 2007 through and continuing to at least January 2008, freight-forwarders Talavera, through Transamerica, and Gonzalez-Neira, through Jumbo, exported Sony brand electronics, including Playstation 2 consoles and digital cameras, to defendant Samer Mehdi, owner of Jomana Import Export, an electronics business located within the Galeria Page, a shopping center in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. Safadi, through Cedar, was a distributor of the electronics to the freight-forwarders.
Since December 6, 2006, the shopping center known as Galeria Page in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, has been designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity by OFAC, pursuant to Executive Order 13224. Consequently, any transaction or dealing by a U.S. person with Galeria Page, including any transaction or dealing with an entity within Galeria Page, is prohibited. The OFAC designation banned trade with Galeria Page and all tenants located therein. At all relevant times to the Indictment, it is alleged that the defendants were aware that shipping to Galeria Page was prohibited.
To implement Executive Order 13224, the U.S. Department of Treasury, through the OFAC, issued regulations that, among other things, prohibited any transactions or dealings in blocked property, or any transactions with an SDGT by a U.S. person in the absence of a specific license granted by OFAC. No such licenses were granted to the defendants here.
FBI Special Agent in Charge John V. Gillies, stated, “The tri-border region is an area of concern to the FBI and our law enforcement partners both in the United States and overseas. We will continue our efforts to safeguard our national security and economic interests, including investigations of violations of our export laws that harm the United States.” “OFAC will continue to pursue aggressive enforcement actions against domestic and foreign entities that conduct business with terrorist-linked entities through the United States," said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.
Bill Warner Director of CSPI..Covert Surveillance by Private Investigators at WBI Inc.