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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Two Charged With Conspiring To Smuggle Weapons To Middle East

 Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Mahmoud Abdel-Ghani Mohammad Assaf (45, Jordan) and Yasser Ahmad Obeid (19, Lebanon) have been charged in a federal criminal complaint with conspiring to smuggle firearms from the United States, and conspiring to deal in firearms without a license, and to ship and receive firearms in interstate and foreign commerce, in violation of federal export control and firearms laws. If convicted as charged in the complaint, Assaf and Obeid face a statutory maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment on each firearms and export violation charge, and five years’ imprisonment for the conspiracy offenses.

According to the complaint, Assaf, a Jordanian national in the United States on a visitor’s visa, and Obeid, a citizen of Lebanon and legal permanent resident residing in St. Petersburg, Florida, are part of a network of individuals involved in smuggling firearms from the United States to the Middle East. The complaint alleges that the firearms were concealed in vehicles purchased at used car auctions in the Central Florida area and then exported to countries located in Africa and the Middle East.  

After being arrested on June 25, 2014, Assaf and Obeid made their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun III.  Assaf was detained pending further proceedings. Obeid’s bond hearing is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Friday, June 27, 2014.

A criminal complaint is merely an informal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Tampa.  It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Josephine W. Thomas.

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Updated January 26, 2015