Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Jacqueline Maguire, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Dermot Shea, Police Commissioner of the City of New York (“NYPD”), announced the arrests of PHYO HEIN HTUT and YE HEIN ZAW for conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. HTUT and ZAW were charged in two separate complaints and will be presented later today in the U.S. District Court in White Plains before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew E. Krause.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged, Phyo Hein Htut and Ye Hein Zaw plotted to seriously injure or kill Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations in a planned attack on a foreign official that was to take place on American soil. We commend the tireless work of our law enforcement partners at all levels of government to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats and officials.”
FBI Acting Assistant Director Jacqueline Maguire said: “Time was of the essence when we received information about a threat to Myanmar’s Ambassador to the United Nations. I would like to thank our Westchester Safe Streets Task Force and each of our partner law enforcement agencies that worked quickly and diligently to track down the men allegedly hired in this plot to harm and potentially kill a foreign diplomat on U.S. soil. Our laws apply to everyone in our country, and these men will now face the consequences of allegedly breaking those laws.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said: “As alleged in today’s federal charges, these defendants reached across borders and oceans in designing a violent plot against an international leader on United States soil. But our NYPD investigators and prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York worked relentlessly with our law enforcement partners to bring them to justice before any harm could be done.”
According to the allegations in the two Complaints filed today:
Between at least in or about July 2021 through at least on or about August 5, 2021, HTUT and ZAW, citizens of Myanmar currently residing in New York, conspired to injure or kill Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (the “Ambassador”). During the conspiracy, HTUT 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, HTUT and the Arms Dealer agreed on a plan in which HTUT 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 HTUT would kill the Ambassador.
Shortly after agreeing on the plan, ZAW contacted HTUT by cellphone and transferred approximately $4,000 to HTUT through a money transfer app as an advance payment on the plot to attack the Ambassador. Later, during a recorded phone conversation with ZAW, HTUT 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, “finish off” the Ambassador. In response, ZAW agreed, in substance, to pay the additional $1,000 and to try to obtain the additional money.
HTUT, 28, and ZAW, 20, both citizens of Myanmar, are each charged in separate complaints with 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 sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
Ms. Strauss 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. Ms. Strauss also thanked the Pelham Manor Police Department and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service for their assistance in the investigation.
Ms. Strauss 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 Attorney Nicholas S. Bradley is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges in the Complaints are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Complaints and the description of the Complaints set forth in this release constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.