Seven men, including two Americans, have been charged for allegedly conspiring to sell surface-to-air missiles and cocaine to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement released Monday.
"We eliminated an entrenched global criminal network, preventing it from moving ton quantities of cocaine, laundering millions in drug money, and trading arms to the Taliban to undermine the rule of law and kill Americans," said Michele M. Leonhart, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. "West Africa has emerged as a place where drugs and terror intersect."
The men allegedly conspired to supply undercover agents posing as Taliban and were arrested by U.S. authorities working with local law enforcement in Romania and Liberia on February 10 and 12, according to the statement.
The men allegedly "agreed to receive and store multi-ton shipments of Taliban-owned heroin" and "sell multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to the Taliban," while the two Americans - identified as Alwar Pouryan and Oded Orbach - allegedly agreed to sell the missiles, the statement said. It did not say where the two Americans live.
They were arrested in Romania are awaiting extradition, according to the statement. The five others were arrested in Monrovia, Liberia and are currently in U.S. custody.
"This alleged effort to arm and enrich the Taliban is the latest example of the dangers of an inter-connected world in which terrorists and drug runners can link up across continents to harm Americans," U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said in the statement.
The men face charges that include conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists and conspiracy to engage in narco-terrorism, the statement said.
It was not clear whether the men had acquired legal defense counsel.