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Conspiracy to send guns and ammo to Syria nets guilty pleas from three Iowans


This news story was published on March 13, 2016.
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Federal courthouse, Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids

Federal courthouse, Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS – Three people involved in a conspiracy to send over 16,000 rounds of ammo and hundreds of guns to Lebanon have pleaded guilty and wait sentencing.

Ali Afif Al Herz, age 51, Sarah Zeaiter, age 25, and Adam Ben Ali Al Herz, age 23, all from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have each pleaded guilty in United States District Court in Cedar Rapids, to charges relating to a scheme to illegally ship firearms and ammunition to Lebanon.

The three people were originally charged in a criminal complaint filed in May 2015. The affidavit supporting the complaint alleged that between about August 2014 and May 11, 2015, three shipping containers originating from Cedar Rapids were loaded with Bobcat skid loaders, clothing, and various other items with an intended destination of Beirut, Lebanon. The first container was not interdicted. On about March 26, 2015, the second container was interdicted at the outbound port in Norfolk, Virginia, where it was found to contain 53 firearms and more than 6800 rounds of ammunition secreted in three Bobcat skid loaders inside the container. On May 8, 2015, a third container, loaded and shipped from a Cedar Rapids business, was searched and found to contain an additional 99 firearms and over 9500 rounds of ammunition. The firearms and ammunition were again secreted within two Bobcat skid loaders in the container.
Adam Al Herz and Sarah Majid Zeaiter each pleaded guilty to: (a) one count of conspiring to: deal in firearms without a license; ship and transport firearms and ammunition in interstate commerce; make false statements to licensed firearms dealers; fail to give notice to common carriers; and violate the Arms Export Control Act; (b) one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and (c) one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act. In total, Adam Al Herz and Sarah Majid Zeaiter could each be sentenced to serve 45 years imprisonment; pay a $1,750,000 fine and $300 in special assessments; and serve 13 years of supervised release.

Ali Afif Al Herz pleaded guilty to: (a) one count of possessing firearms after having been previously convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; (b) one count of conspiring to: deal in firearms without a license; ship and transport firearms and ammunition in interstate commerce; make false statements to licensed firearms dealers; fail to give notice to common carriers; and violate the Arms Export Control Act; (c) one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and (d) one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act. In total, Ali Afif Al Herz could be sentenced to serve 55 years imprisonment; pay a $2,000,000 fine and $400 in special assessments; and serve 16 years of supervised release.

Sentencing proceedings in each case will be set at a later date.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Richard Murphy and was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

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One Response to Conspiracy to send guns and ammo to Syria nets guilty pleas from three Iowans

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    March 15, 2016 at 11:29 am

    what about all the guns and ammo our Government leave for them to use??