U.S. Attorney’s Office
October 11, 2012
Southern District of New York
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Jamal Yousef, a/k/a “Talal Hassan Ghantou,” a native of Lebanon, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 12 years in prison for conspiring to provide military-grade weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the FARC), a foreign terrorist organization, in exchange for over a ton of cocaine. Yousef pled guilty in May 2012 to one count of providing material support to the FARC before U.S. District Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska. U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan imposed today’s sentence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “Jamal Yousef was ready, willing, and able to provide an arsenal of weapons and explosives to people he believed to be part of a terrorist organization, dedicated, in part, to killing Americans. Thanks once again to our partnerships with law enforcement both here and abroad, he will now go to prison.”
According to indictments filed in this case in Manhattan federal court:
The FARC, which was designated by the U.S. Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization, is a highly structured international terrorist group that is dedicated to the violent overthrow of the democratically elected government of Colombia. Organized as a military group, the FARC actively engages in narcotics trafficking as a financing mechanism, and has evolved into the world’s largest supplier of cocaine. For at least the past five years, the FARC has been responsible for violent acts committed against U.S. persons and commercial and property interests in foreign jurisdictions—including in Colombia—in order to dissuade the United States from continuing its efforts to disrupt the FARC’s cocaine manufacturing and trafficking activities.
From July 2008 through July 2009, in exchange for more than a ton of cocaine, Yousef and others agreed to provide individuals whom he believed to be representatives of the FARC, but were actually confidential informants working with the DEA, with AR-15 and M-16 assault rifles, M-60 machine guns, C-4 explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, and other military items they claimed had been stolen from U.S. forces in Iraq. Yousef knew that the FARC was engaged in terrorist activity when he made this agreement. He was arrested in Honduras on August 2009 and subsequently transported to the Southern District of New York.
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In addition to his prison term, Yousef, 54, was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment fee.
The charges against Yousef were the result of the coordinated efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the DEA’s Special Operations Division and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Bogota, Colombia Country Offices. Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA and thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, its National Security Division, and the Department of State and Interpol for their assistance.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey A. Brown, Jenna Dabbs, and Christopher LaVigne are in charge of the prosecution.