Canadian arrested in plot to smuggle grenade launcher, guns from U.S. to Lebanon
A Canadian citizen was arrested in Seattle, Wash. after he was busted trying to hide firearms in a vehicle that he and an associate were planning to ship to Lebanon, according to a criminal complaint released by the U.S. Justice Department.
Nafez El Mir, a Canadian who lives in Lebanon, and Lebanese citizen Hicham Diab were arrested after they stuffed a grenade launcher, assault rifle kit and other weapons into the door panels and bumper spaces of an SUV, all in the presence of undercover agents from Homeland Security Investigations, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
It all started with a 2016 visit to Diab’s firearms store in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli by an unidentified U.S. resident. Diab asked whether this person had access to firearms in America and would be willing to sell them.
Upon returning to America, the U.S. resident reached out to authorities to inform them of Diab’s interest in buying weapons from the U.S.
The person was enlisted as a confidential informant, and worked with authorities to place a number of phone calls to Diab to discuss the firearm smuggling plot.
In late October, over a year and a half after Diab began speaking with the informant, Canadian citizen El Mir was enlisted in the plot due to his supposed experience in concealing weapons inside auto panels.
On Wednesday, Nov. 7, undercover agents lured Diab to a warehouse that they had stocked with an array of weapons including a grenade launcher, 20 Glock handguns, a Smith & Wesson .50 revolver, an FN Fiveseven pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle kit.
The following day, El Mir and Diab returned to the warehouse and started working to conceal the weapons inside door panels and bumper cavities of an SUV.
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El Mir is also alleged to have discussed how to ship the vehicle to Lebanon, and pondered whether a second vehicle might have been needed to hide all the weapons that were to be shipped.
The men were arrested as they exited the warehouse Thursday evening.
They face one count of conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
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