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Press Release

Two Members Of International Narcotics Trafficking Conspiracy Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court

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 that MARTIN RAOUF BOURAIMA and CORNEILLE DATO were sentenced today in Manhattan federal court for participating in a conspiracy to import narcotics into the United States. Both BOURAIMA and DATO were sentenced to 50 months in prison. BOURAIMA and DATO were arrested in Monrovia, Liberia, in coordination with Liberian authorities in February 2011, and thereafter transferred to the custody of the United States. BOURAIMA pled guilty in November 2012, and DATO pled guilty in January 2013, both before U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who also imposed today’s sentences.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “Martin Raouf Bouraima and Corneille Dato readily agreed to transport heroin and sell cocaine which they understood would be for the benefit of the Taliban, and which they understood would reach the streets of the United States. With their sentences today, Bouraima and Dato become the latest defendants to be punished for their roles in this narco-trafficking conspiracy.”

According to the Indictment and Complaint previously unsealed in this case:

Beginning in the summer of 2010, BOURAIMA, DATO, and some of their co-defendants (the “co-defendants”) communicated with confidential sources (“CSs”) working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), who purported to represent the Taliban. The communications occurred by telephone, via e-mail, and in a series of audio-recorded and videotaped meetings over several months.

During meetings with the CSs beginning in June 2010, in West Africa, BOURAIMA, DATO, and their co-defendants agreed to receive and store multi-ton shipments of Taliban-owned heroin. Thereafter, BOURAIMA, DATO, and their co-defendants agreed to transport the heroin within West Africa, from where they understood portions of it would be sent on a commercial airplane to the United States to be sold for the financial benefit of the Taliban. During these meetings, BOURAIMA, DATO, and their co-defendants also agreed to sell multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to the Taliban that they could then sell at a profit. As with the heroin, BOURAIMA, DATO, and their co-defendants understood that portions of the cocaine sold to the CSs would be transported to the United States by commercial airline and then sold in this country.

In addition to the prison terms, BOURAIMA, 42, and DATO, 56, both citizens of Benin, were each ordered to pay a $200 special assessment.

Last week, DATO and BOURAIMA’s co-defendant, Francis Sourou Ahissou, was sentenced by Judge Buchwald to 66 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Co-defendants Oded Orbach and Alwar Pouryan, who were convicted after trial in April 2013 of conspiring to provide material support to the Taliban and conspiring to acquire anti-aircraft missiles, are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Buchwald on September 4, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.

The charges against BOURAIMA and DATO were the result of the coordinated efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the DEA’s Special Operations Division, as well as the DEA Lagos Country Office, the DEA Warsaw Country Office, the DEA Ghana Country Office, the DEA Athens Country Office, and the DEA SECI (South East European Cooperative Initiative Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime). Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA and thanked the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs and National Security Division, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their assistance. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Government of Liberia for its cooperation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christian Everdell, Aimee Hector, and Glen Kopp are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated May 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-269