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Feds indict NYC man and 8 others for international arms trafficking conspiracy

June 29, 2017  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Feds indict NYC man and 8 others for international arms trafficking conspiracy

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Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment in Brooklyn Federal Court on Wednesday charging a Staten Island man for his role in an international arms trafficking conspiracy involving the alleged sale of more than a dozen AK-47s and an anti-tank rocket launcher.

The indictment stemmed from a DEA-led undercover investigation, which resulted in the arrests of 34-year-old Staten Island resident Albert Veliu and eight co-conspirators on charges of international arms trafficking, extortion, and money laundering.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said Veliu was busted attempting to sell illegal weapons from Kosovo to an undercover agent.

Albert Veliu (pictured) is among eight defendants charged with money laundering, extortion, and international arms trafficking after he was caught trying to sell the weapons to an undercover agent

During the investigation, feds captured Veliu on phone intercepts discussing the arms deal, using code words such as “sneakers” and “Shaq-sized sneakers” to describe assault rifles and an M80 Anti-Tank Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher.

According to the criminal complaint, Veliu was made to believe the weapons were destined for a Mexican drug cartel fighting a turf war against rivals near the U.S. border.

Authorities said the arms trafficking plot, which was allegedly arranged to pay back a mob debt, was uncovered thanks to an informant, who was the victim of an extortion plot by Veliu’s co-defendant in the case, Christopher Curanovic.

Court documents indicate that the cooperating witness owned a garage and was paying 40,000 in protection money belonging to one of New York’s five organized crime families.

Veliu was caught trying to sell more than a dozen AK-47s and an anti-tank rocket launcher in Kosovo (pictured are some of the recovered weapons from the deal)

The victim eventually failed to make the payments and Curanovic subsequently paid the debt off for the informant.

To collect the debt, Curanovic, who currently remains incarcerated for a previous conviction in a separate racketeering case, began sending threatening messages to the informant.

The informant and another cooperating witness then arranged for Curanovic to receive a portion of illegal proceeds from a drug trafficking operation, which would require laundered money.

Prosecutors allege that Curanovic, Veliu, and the remaining defendants laundered over $800,000 in drug money and arranged the sale of more than five pounds of marijuana.

Albert Veliu then told the informant he had a connection to obtain arms overseas in Kosovo.

Authorities in the Baltic State assisted by DEA agents executed search warrants, seizing additional arms and ammunition.

All eight defendants were arraigned in federal court on Wednesday and ordered to remain behind bars without bail by Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold.

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