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Press Release

Iranian Narcotics Broker Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 210 Months In Prison For Conspiring To Import Hundreds Of Kilograms Of Heroin To The United States

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that SIAVOSH HENAREH, a citizen of Iran, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 210 months in prison for conspiring to import heroin into the United States. HENAREH was convicted in November 2012 after a two-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff. HENAREH was one of three defendants charged in connection with an international investigation of narcotics and weapons traffickers. His co-defendant, Cetin Aksu, pled guilty in August 2012 to conspiring to provide material support to Hizballah, conspiring to acquire anti-aircraft missiles, conspiring to import heroin into the United States, and making false declarations before a federal court. HENAREH’s other co-defendant, Bachar Wehbe, pled guilty in November 2011 to conspiring to provide material support to Hizballah, conspiring to acquire anti-aircraft missiles, and obstruction of justice. Judge Rakoff imposed HENAREH’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “The conduct for which Siavosh Henareh was sentenced today, along with the conduct of his co-defendants, serves as a stark reminder of the nexus between international narcotics trafficking and terrorist funding. Today’s stiff sentence befits the gravity of his crime, and we will continue to pursue narco-traffickers across the globe.”

According to the Indictment and evidence presented at trial:

Beginning in June 2010, HENAREH – an international narcotics broker – had over 30 meetings in countries including Turkey, Romania, and Greece with DEA confidential sources (the “CSs”) and potential heroin suppliers. During those meetings, and in a series of telephone calls, HENAREH agreed to arrange the importation of hundreds of kilograms of high-quality heroin into the United States. The CSs represented to HENAREH that the profits from the sale of the heroin in the United States would be used, among other things, to purchase weapons. In April 2011, in Bucharest, Romania, the CSs received a one-kilogram heroin sample from HENAREH’s co-conspirator in order to inspect its quality, and in anticipation of a subsequent, multi-hundred kilogram load. In July 2011, HENAREH volunteered his home as the location where approximately three million Euros would be brought to pay for 189 kilograms of heroin. He then helped his co-conspirators verify and count that money, before being arrested by the Romanian National Police.

While negotiating the heroin transaction, members of the narcotics conspiracy began to negotiate a weapons deal with the CSs. Specifically, Aksu, who also participated in the heroin conspiracy, met with the CSs and with Wehbe in furtherance of the weapons deal. Aksu and Wehbe subsequently arranged to purchase military-grade weaponry from the CSs on behalf of Hizballah. In those meetings, and in telephone calls and email messages, Aksu and Wehbe discussed the purchase of American-made Stinger surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”), Igla SAMs, AK-47 and M4 assault rifles, M107 .50 caliber sniper rifles, and ammunition from an American base in Germany and other locations. In June 2011, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Aksu and Wehbe signed a written contract for the purchase of 48 American-made Stinger SAMs, 100 Igla SAMs, 5,000 AK-47 assault rifles, 1,000 M4 rifles, and 1,000 Glock handguns, for a total price of approximately $9.5 million. During the course of the weapons negotiations, Wehbe stated that he was purchasing the weapons on instructions from, and on behalf of Hizballah. Shortly thereafter, Wehbe and others caused approximately $100,000 to be transferred to the CSs as a down payment for the weapons purchase, including a $50,000 wire transfer to an undercover bank account.

In addition to his prison term, HENAREH, 58, was also sentenced to five years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment.

Wehbe and Aksu are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rakoff on November 4, 2013 and August 22, 2014, respectively. Both defendants face a maximum term of life in prison, with a mandatory minimum term of 25 years in prison.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding work of the Special Operations Division of the DEA, the DEA Bucharest Country Office, the DEA Istanbul Country Office, the DEA Kuala Lumpur Country Office, the DEA Copenhagen Country Office, the DEA New Delhi Country Office, the DEA Athens Country Office, and the DEA Cyprus Country Office. Mr. Bharara also expressed his gratitude to the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center, the Romanian National Police, the Turkish National Police, the Malaysian National Police, the Greek Hellenic Police, the Cyprus National Police, and the Maldives Police Service. Mr. Bharara also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the National Security Division, and the United States Department of State for their ongoing assistance.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Naftalis and Rachel Kovner are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated May 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-090