A former U.S. Army sergeant accused of assembling an international team of military servicemembers with sniper training to provide surveillance and security, as well as carry out contract killings for a Colombian drug cartel pleaded guilty in New York federal court.
Former U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph Hunter entered guilty pleas to charges that include conspiracy to murder a DEA agent and a DEA informant, conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S., and conspiracy to possess a firearm, announced the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in a press release Friday.
Hunter is identified as “Rambo” in the indictment levied against him and his team.
The former American soldier was under the impression that he was dealing with Colombian cartel members, who were actually DEA confidential sources.
Along with his team of military-trained mercenaries, he provided surveillance and security for DEA confidential sources posing as Colombian cartel members.
In June 2013, Hunter and his team agreed to kill a U.S. DEA agent and DEA source in Liberia for $800,000.
Following a DEA undercover investigation, Hunter was arrested in September 2013 in Liberia along with co-defendants Timothy Vamvakias, Dennis Gogel, Slawomir Soborski, and Michael Filter. The murders-for-hire were never carried out.
According to the indictment, Hunter and his team held a series of meetings with two undercover agents in 2013 across Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.
The indictment revealed that all five defendants had served in the military of their respective countries. Hunter and Vamvakias served in the U.S. Army, Gogel and Filter served in the German armed forces, and Soborski served in the Polish military.
“Hunter served as a sniper instructor and a senior drill sergeant, training other soldiers in marksmanship and tactics,” said the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. “Vamvakias attained the rank of sergeant and served both as infantryman and a military police officer. Gogel, Soborski, and Filter were also trained as snipers.”
“Joseph Hunter has now admitted that he conspired to murder a DEA agent and an informant, and provide security and surveillance for a Colombian cocaine trafficking organization,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Hunter, a former U.S. Army officer, became a soldier of misfortune who recruited and led an international band of criminal mercenaries. This global gun for hire will now be confined stateside in federal prison.”
Vamvakias, Gogel, and Soborski have also entered guilty pleas. Filter is scheduled to go to trial June 1.
Hunter’s lawyer accused the government of entrapment, saying his client was following the orders of a criminal DEA informant who had threatened Hunter’s life.