Salvadoran Arms Dealer Pleads Guilty to Supporting FARC
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Hector Antonio Martinez-Guillen, 32, of El Salvador, pleaded guilty today to attempting to provide material support to the FARC, a designated terrorist organization, and carrying a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Derek Maltz, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s Special Operations Division, made the announcement after the guilty plea was accepted by United States District Court Judge James C. Cacheris.
“Hector Antonio Martinez-Guillen admitted today that he worked as an arm dealer trying to supply a foreign terrorist organization with military-grade weapons intended to kill American military personnel in Colombia,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Today’s guilty plea sends a strong message to those who would support terrorist groups that seek to harm United States citizens and interests worldwide. Our office is committed to finding and prosecuting those who provide these terrorist groups with tools of destruction, no matter where they may be found.”
Martinez-Guillen was indicted on Feb. 24, 2011 by a federal grand jury for terrorism and explosives charges for conduct occurring from July to November 2010. Martinez-Guillen faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when he is sentenced on July 29, 2011.
In court, Martinez-Guillen admitted to selling C-4 plastic explosives, blasting caps, several automatic rifles, and ammunition to an individual whom he believed to be a member of the FARC, a Colombian paramilitary group that has been a Designated Terrorist Organization since 1997. The defendant admitted to believing that these weapons and explosives were to be used by the FARC in Colombia to eradicate American troops and military consultants from Colombia, dead or alive. The defendant was apprehended in the Eastern District of Virginia when he traveled to the District and took possession of a load of 20 kilograms of cocaine with instructions to transport it to New York City on behalf of the FARC member for whom he was working.
This case was investigated by the DEA’s Special Operations Division and San Salvador Country Office. Mr. MacBride also thanked the Salvadoran National Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Annandale Task Force for the DEA’s Washington Division, the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division for their ongoing assistance. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael P. Ben’Ary and Lynn E. Haaland of the Office’s National Security and International Crime Unit are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United StatesA copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.