Two former U.S. soldiers have been arrested and charged as part of an international conspiracy to distribute cocaine and assassinate a U.S. DEA agent. Several foreign former military members were also arrested as part of the same organization.
Americans Joseph Manuel Hunter and Timothy Vamvakias, Germans Dennis Gogel and Michael Filter, and Slawomir Soborski of Poland were all arrested on September 25 in various countries around the globe: “HUNTER was arrested in Thailand; VAMVAKIAS and GOGEL were arrested in Liberia and all three subsequently were expelled to the United States. SOBORSKI and FILTER were arrested in Estonia, where they remain, pending extradition to the United States.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the charges for the men involve an effort to import cocaine into the United States, conspiracy to murder a U.S. law enforcement agent and an undercover operational source (informant), and possessing firearms to carry out these crimes.
The arrests stem from what U.S. authorities are calling a “long-standing undercover operation” that was carried out in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and elsewhere.
“The bone-chilling allegations in today’s Indictment read like they were ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “The charges tell a tale of an international band of mercenary marksmen who enlisted their elite military training to serve as hired guns for evil ends. Three of the defendants were ready, willing and eager to take cold hard cash to commit the cold-blooded murders of a DEA agent and an informant.”
All of the men involved in the alleged crimes had served in their nations’ military as either drill sergeants, snipers, sniper trainers, or had trained others in tactics, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said: “The targets of this investigation were hardened global criminals involved in everything from drug and arms trafficking to contract assassinations. Besides being international cocaine traffickers, members of this criminal organization conspired in an elaborate scheme to murder a DEA Special Agent and an informant for a six figure payday.”
The allegations against these former military members are especially concerning in light of recent revelations that Mexican cartels are seeking former U.S. soldiers to act as mercenary assassins against their enemies.