Swede in US court over guns for drugs deal
AFP/The Local · 10 May 2011, 07:34
Published: 10 May 2011 07:34 GMT+02:00
- Venezuela slams Sweden over FARC deportee (30 Apr 11)
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US prosecutors claim Paul Mardirossian is an international arms and drug dealer who agreed to supply weapons to the Marxist rebel group FARC with the knowledge that they would be used for an assault on the US military in Colombia.
Mardirossian, 42, was extradited from Panama to the United States on Friday. He was arraigned Monday in a federal court in New York and was being held without bail.
In February 2010, Mardirossian met with undercover operatives of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) whom he believed to be representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), prosecutors said.
Mardirossian allegedly agreed to supply FARC with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and assault rifles, in exchange for "large quantities of cocaine," prosecutors said in a statement.
At a meeting in January, Mardirossian allegedly was told by a second DEA undercover operative that the weapons "were needed to attack a US military
base that was currently under construction," the statement added.
Mardirossian allegedly inspected cocaine supplies at a location outside Panama City and later made plans to ship cocaine to New York.
He was arrested April 27 in Panama City shortly after coordinating the delivery of a weapons sample -- a grenade launcher and AK-47 assault rifle -- to an undercover officer in Copenhagen, Denmark, prosecutors said.
Mardirossian faces life in prison if convicted on charges including conspiracy to engage in narco-terrorism, conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, attempted cocaine smuggling, and money laundering.