Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty plea of YE HEIN ZAW, a citizen of Myanmar, for his role in a conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. ZAW pled guilty today in White Plains federal court before U.S. District Judge Philip M. Halpern.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As he admitted in court today, Ye Hein Zaw participated in a plot to injure or kill Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations in a planned attack that was to take place on American soil. Zaw now awaits sentencing for his crime. I commend the tireless efforts of our law enforcement partners at all levels of government to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats and officials in the United States and bring the perpetrators of this plot to justice.”
According to the Information to which ZAW pled guilty, the complaint that was filed in this case, and statements made during court proceedings:
Between at least in or about July 2021 through at least on or about August 5, 2021, ZAW, a citizen of Myanmar residing in New York, conspired with others to injure or kill Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (the “Ambassador”). During the conspiracy, a co-conspirator communicated with an arms dealer in Thailand (the “Arms Dealer”) who sells weapons to the Burmese military, which overthrew Myanmar’s civilian government in or about February 2021. In the course of those conversations, the co-conspirator and the Arms Dealer agreed on a plan in which the co-conspirator would hire attackers to hurt the Ambassador in an attempt to force the Ambassador to step down from his post. If the Ambassador did not step down, then the Arms Dealer proposed that the attackers hired by the co-conspirator would kill the Ambassador.
Shortly after agreeing on the plan, ZAW contacted the co-conspirator by cellphone and, using a money transfer app, transferred approximately $4,000 to the co-conspirator as an advance payment on the plot to attack the Ambassador. Later, during a recorded phone conversation, ZAW and the co-conspirator discussed how the planned attackers would require an additional $1,000 to conduct the attack on the Ambassador in Westchester County, and, for an additional payment, the attackers could, in substance, kill the Ambassador. In response, ZAW agreed, in substance, to pay the additional $1,000 and to try to obtain the additional money.
ZAW pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon a foreign official, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
ZAW is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Halpern on May 10, 2022.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s Westchester Safe Streets Task Force, which comprises special agents and task force officers from the FBI, NYPD, United States Probation Office, New York State Police, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Westchester County Department of Public Safety, Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, and the police departments of Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Greenburgh, White Plains, Peekskill, Ramapo, and Clarkstown. Mr. Williams also thanked the Pelham Manor Police Department and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service for their assistance in the investigation.
Mr. Williams said that the investigation is ongoing, and asked any individuals with relevant information to contact the FBI at (800)-CALL-FBI.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Nicholas S. Bradley and Benjamin D. Klein are in charge of the prosecution.