Israeli National Pleads Guilty to Cocaine Conspiracy and International Money Laundering Charges
BOSTON – An Israeli national pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston to conspiring to transfer $2.5 million worth of cocaine from Colombia to Israel via Boston and to money laundering charges.
Jalal Altarabeen, a/k/a Glal El Tarbin, a/k/a Jalal Salamah, a/k/a Abu Rasheed, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and six counts of international money laundering. U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani deferred acceptance of the plea until sentencing, which she scheduled for April 13, 2018. In February 2017, Altarabeen was extradited from Poland after being indicted with a co-conspirator. Altarabeen and the co-conspirator were previously charged in a federal criminal complaint in March 2016.
From October 2015 to April 20, 2016, Altarabeen and his co-conspirator conspired in Boston, Colombia, Poland, and elsewhere to distribute 50 kilograms of cocaine and to launder money internationally. They also negotiated to buy 50 kilograms of cocaine from an undercover officer posing as a drug trafficker. The undercover officer’s relationship with the co-conspirator began in 2008 and included a meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus.
Altarabeen and the co-conspirator agreed to pay the undercover officer $50,000 per kilogram to have the cocaine delivered in Israel. The undercover officer told the conspirators that the cocaine would be transported from Colombia to Boston and from Boston to Beersheba, Israel. Altarabeen agreed to make an advance payment of nearly $1 million to cover transportation costs, and he sent six wire transfers from Turkey totaling $999,972 to an undercover bank account in Boston. The undercover officer and Altarabeen agreed that Altarabeen would pay the $1.5 million balance after the receipt and sale of the 50 kilograms of cocaine.
Over several months, the undercover officer spoke with Altarabeen and the co-conspirator by telephone, WhatsApp, video Skype and in person. They contacted the undercover officer using telephone numbers from Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Colombia, and discussed the drug transaction while in Bogota, Colombia, on Oct. 14, 2015, and Feb. 9, 2016.
The drug trafficking statute provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $10 million. The money laundering statute provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, a minimum of three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the offense. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Michael Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Joel Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and John Gibbons, United States Marshal for the District of Massachusetts, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda M. Ricci of Lelling’s Narcotics and Money Laundering Unit is prosecuting the case.