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Black Shield Ltd executives Mohamad Deiry, Samer Rayya wanted by FBI for arms trafficking

Black Shield wired a downpayment of $100,000 from a front company in Benin, West Africa. The conspiracy involved both Black Shield emissaries from India and Belarus.

• April 16, 2024
Mohamad Deiry, Samer Rayya
Mohamad Deiry, Samer Rayya

An indictment was unsealed yesterday charging Syria national Mohamad Deiry and Lebanese national Samer Rayya, both principals of an Iraq-based arms company, Black Shield Ltd., with conspiring to export munitions from the United States to Sudan and Iraq without the necessary licenses and approvals, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

Additionally, Deiry and Rayya were charged with conspiring to commit money laundering in furtherance of their illicit procurement activities.

Both Rayya and Deiry remain at large and wanted by the FBI. The defendants have ties to or may visit Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Russia, Belarus, Sudan and Libya.

Concurrent with this announcement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Black Shield, also known as Black Shield for Trading LLC, Deiry, and Rayya, as well as other individuals and entities involved in the procurement network used by Deiry and Rayya in support of Black Shield’s illegal supply of munitions used in conflicts around the world.

“These defendants allegedly ran an international arm trafficking ring and conspired to unlawfully export anti-aircraft ammunition and other military arms and munitions from the United States to Sudan and Iraq, promoting violence and putting Americans and our allies at risk,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “These charges exemplify the Justice Department’s commitment to investigating and holding accountable those who defy our U.S. export controls.”

“This indictment demonstrates the FBI’s resolve to investigate those who seek to illegally acquire and sell U.S. arms, ultimately fueling conflict around the world,” said Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch Larissa L. Knapp. “Deiry and Rayya’s alleged actions will not be taken lightly, and the FBI will do all within its power to ensure that they are brought to justice. Illegal arms exportation and international money laundering will not be tolerated.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to the prosecution of those individuals and corporations that illicitly procure munitions to be shared overseas,” said U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida. “Our goal is to identify and thwart arms traffickers and money launderers whose criminal acts fuel the destabilization of nations and perpetuation of international conflicts.”

According to the indictment, between April and November 2016, Deiry, Rayya and others conspired to export munitions, including 23-millimeter antiaircraft ammunition, Bushmaster 40mm Grenade Launchers, FN SCAR-L CQC (5.56x45mm) assault rifles, FN SCAR-H CQC (7.62x51mm) assault rifles, FNH 5.7x28mm green tip ammunition, and HK MR762A1 LRP ii (7.62x51mm) assault rifles, from the United States to Sudan and Iraq without first obtaining the required licenses or approvals from DDTC.

Specifically, the co-conspirators attempted to illegally acquire the munitions from the United States in a deal worth $1,200,000, which was part of a larger scheme to illegally acquire $4 million worth of 23-millimeter ammunition.

The conspiracy involved the transshipment of the munitions from the United States to Guatemala and from Guatemala to false end-users in Cyprus before ultimately arriving in Sudan and Iraq.

In furtherance of the conspiracy, Black Shield wired a downpayment of $100,000 from a front company located in Benin, West Africa. The conspiracy involved both Black Shield emissaries from India and Belarus, who traveled to the United States to inspect the munitions, as well as Israeli American and Israeli Romanian-Uzbeki brokers, who acted as middlemen between the supplier and end-users.

Deiry and Rayya are charged with conspiracy to unlawfully export defense articles from the United States, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison; and conspiracy to engage in international money laundering, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI Miami Field Office is investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Hummel for the Southern District of Florida is prosecuting the case, with valuable assistance from Trial Attorneys Brendan Geary and Tracy Varghese of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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