Seven Owners and Employees of Import-Export Companies Arrested for Conspiracy to Launder Drug Trafficking Proceeds and Related Crimes
A six-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Central Islip charging Enayatullah Khwaja, Abdulrahman Khwaja, Rani Rahimi, Shikeba Rhamatzada, Roberto Saenz, Maynor Melendez-Mendoza and Naseem Bokhari with conspiracy to commit money laundering, operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business, failure to file currency transaction reports and IRS forms 8300, structuring monetary deposits, and interstate and foreign travel and transportation in aid of a racketeering enterprise. The defendants, all owners and employees of import-export businesses located on Long Island and in Miami, were arrested this morning.
Enayatullah Khwaja, Abdulrahman Khwaja, Rahimi and Rhamatzada will be arraigned this afternoon in Central Islip before United States District Judge Joseph F. Bianco. Saenz, Melendez-Mendoza and Bokhari, who were arrested in Florida, will be arraigned at the federal courthouse in Miami, and the government will seek their removal to the Eastern District of New York.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York, and James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS-CI), announced the charges.
“Money laundering is the lifeblood of international narcotics trafficking organizations and with today’s arrests the defendants’ ability to profit from illicit proceeds has been crippled,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “I commend our prosecutors and the Special Agents in this case for their relentless work following the money trail here and abroad in order to disrupt this criminal scheme.”
“Those arrested today allegedly employed an international money laundering scheme relying on the complexities of global trade, and the use of their businesses here in New York and in Florida, to launder millions of dollars for transnational drug traffickers and other bad actors,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez. “This investigation exemplifies HSI’s efforts in securing the integrity of our country’s trade and financial systems, and the importance of law enforcement partnerships here and abroad.”
“Special Agents of IRS-CI are experts in identifying and uncovering criminal violations with a financial aspect whether committed at home or abroad as alleged in the indictment,” stated IRS-CI Special Agent-in-Charge Robnett.
As alleged in the indictment and other court documents, family-owned businesses operated by the defendants on Long Island and in Miami were used to launder millions of dollars in illegal drug proceeds between the United States and South America. Enayatullah Khwaja was the owner and manager of Tronix Telecom Corp., an electronics and mobile phone import-export company with an office in Miami. Enayatullah Khwaja managed the company from his home in Farmingdale. The defendants took in bulk cash deliveries from drug dealers and disguised the transfer of money through the actual and purported purchase and export of mobile phones. The government’s investigation included extensive court-ordered wiretaps of the defendants, as well as undercover federal agents posing as drug dealers.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal and Civil Divisions. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles P. Kelly, Burton T. Ryan, Jr. and Madeline O’Connor are in charge of the prosecution.
ENAYATULLAH KHWAJA (also known as “Nat”)
NASEEM BOKHARI (also known as “Sammy”)
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-607(JFB)