Member Of International Narcotics Trafficking Conspiracy Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MARTIN RAOUF BOURAIMA, a citizen of Benin, pled guilty today in Manhattan federal court to narcotics importation conspiracy charges. BOURAIMA was arrested in Monrovia, Liberia, in coordination with Liberian authorities in February 2011 and transferred thereafter to the custody of the United States. BOURAIMA pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Martin Raouf Bouraima was part of a West African-based organization that was capable of storing, receiving, and shipping prodigious quantities of heroin to be sold in the U.S. for the benefit of the Taliban, and it was willing to sell cocaine to the Taliban as well. Now Bouraima will go to prison. This case, and Bouraima’s guilty plea, are another example of how the international narcotics trade has spread its tentacles into West Africa, and how we, along with our international law enforcement partners, are responding in kind.”
According to the Indictment and Complaint previously unsealed in this case:
Beginning in the summer of 2010, BOURAIMA and some of his co-defendants (the “co-defendants”) communicated with confidential sources (“CSs”) working with the DEA, who purported to represent the Taliban. The communications occurred by telephone, via email, and in a series of audio-recorded and videotaped meetings over several months in Benin, Ghana, Ukraine, and Romania.
During meetings with the CSs beginning in June 2010 in Benin and Ghana, BOURAIMA and his co-defendants agreed to receive and store multi-ton shipments of Taliban-owned heroin in Benin. Thereafter, BOURAIMA and his co-defendants agreed to transport the heroin to Ghana, from where they understood portions of it would be sent on a commercial airplane to the United States to be sold for the financial benefit of the Taliban. During these meetings, BOURAIMA and his co-defendants also agreed to sell multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to the Taliban that they could then sell at a profit. As with the heroin, BOURAIMA and the co-defendants understood that portions of the cocaine sold to the CSs would be transported to the United States by commercial airline and then sold in this country.
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BOURAIMA, 41, pled guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine, knowing and intending it would be imported into the United States, and one count of conspiring to distribute heroin, knowing and intending it would be imported into the United States. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. BOURAIMA is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Buchwald on May 16, 2013 at 4:00 p.m.
The charges against BOURAIMA 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, as well as the DEA Lagos Country Office, the DEA Warsaw Country Office, the DEA Ghana Country Office, the DEA Athens Country Office, and the DEA SECI (South East European Cooperative Initiative Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime). Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA and thanked the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs and National Security Division, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their assistance. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Government of Liberia for its cooperation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christian Everdell, Aimee Hector, and Glen Kopp are in charge of the prosecution.