Bosnian migrant jailed for 7 years for selling firearms to Swedish neo-Nazis and terrorists
A Bosnian national has been jailed for more than seven years by a US court in Washington state after being convicted of sending gun parts to neo-Nazis in Sweden.
Hany Veletanlic, a 36-year-old Bosnian citizen who had been living legally in the US, was handed a jail sentence of 85 months after he was found guilty of four offences related to the illegal possession and trafficking of firearms.
The investigation that led to the arrest and ultimate conviction of Veletanlic began when Swedish law enforcement agents seized a Glock firearm from a property in the municipality of Fagersta.
Although the gun’s serial number had been filed off, Glock was able to establish that it had been purchased by a buyer in Seattle through a code printed on one its parts.
When contacted by US police, the buyer of the weapon said he had sold it privately to Veletanlic, who then contacted investigators when he heard enquiries were being made about the gun.
During a subsequent arrest, police discovered that the Bosnian national was in possession of a stolen Ruger pistol with its serial number removed.
The Bosnian admitted he sold firearms on eBay and via direct sales, and confessed to shipping 20 different gun consignments to two different customer groups in Sweden, as well as additional weapon packages to buyers in France, Russia and Brazil.
Veletanlic falsely labelled his illicit shipments as bicycle parts and sent them to customers using fake names and return addresses.
Giving evidence during his trial, police from Sweden said some of the buyers of Veletanlic’s firearms were linked to neo-Nazi and terrorist activity.
Prosecutors said Veletanlic had repeatedly lied to law enforcement officers while they were investigating his weapons trafficking conspiracy, and that he was involved in a plot to have a witness in the case shot from behind bars.
Jailing Veletanlic, US District Judge James Robart said he had been involved in the running of an illegal “lucrative business” and taken “quite sophisticated steps” in order to cover his tracks.
US Attorney Brian Moran commented: “This defendant repeatedly lied to law enforcement, violated judges orders, and even schemed to harm a witness against him from the Federal Detention Centre.
“Even behind bars he tried to transfer guns in his control to another violent group. Such disregard for the rule of law cannot be tolerated.”
US court charges Saudi men with firearms trafficking offences in their absence
Prosecutors in the US have charged three men from Saudi Arabia with illegally purchasing firearms parts worth an estimated $100,000 while in America on student visas and attempting to smuggle them back to their home country.
In a five-count indictment returned last week, Hatim Humeed Alsufyani, 36, and 27-year-old Mosab Alzahrani, both of whom previously resided in San Bernardino, California, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to smuggle goods out of America without obtaining the proper export licences.
Both men were also charged with counts of knowingly exporting weapons parts without a licence.
It is understood the pair are currently back in Saudi Arabia.
In a separate indictment, Mohammed Alabdulwahab, 30, who is also said to have lived in Los Angeles at the time the offences were committed, was charged with 15 counts of smuggling and 15 counts of knowingly exporting firearms parts from the US without first having obtained an export licence from the State Department.
Alabdulwahab is also thought to currently be living back in the kingdom.
Prosecutors allege that Alsufyani and Alzahrani plotted to traffic rifle barrels, rifle triggers and other items related to firearms out of the US to their home country in their checked luggage on flights from Los Angeles.
The pair are said to have falsely identified the firearms parts as “shower curtain rods” or “car parts” when passing through customs checks.
It is also alleged that Alabdulwahab got in touch with US-based firearms parts retailers in 2018 in order to buy parts for the purpose of illegally exporting them to Saudi Arabia.
Alsufyani could face a maximum penalty of 65 years behind bars if convicted of all the charges he faces, while Alzahrani could be handed a 25-year maximum jail term.
Alabdulwahab could face a maximum jail term of 10 years for each smuggling count he has been charged with, and 20 years for each violation of the Arms Export Control Act.
The US and Saudi Arabia do not have a formal extradition treaty, meaning the Kingdom does not send its citizens accused of crimes to America to face justice.
Last month, Oregon Live reported that Democratic Senator Ron Wyden had won approval for a new bill that could force the White House to disclose what it knows about the Saudi Arabian government’s alleged role in removing its citizens from the US to escape prosecution.
If it passes into law, the Saudi Fugitives Declassification Act would compel US authorities to declassify all information relating to how the Saudi government may have helped accused criminals leave the country.
UNODC holds meeting in Vienna on organised firearms trafficking across EU member states
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) this week convened a cross-regional meeting of experts intended to address the illegal trafficking of firearms across the European Union.
Held in Vienna as part of UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme (GFP), which was set up to help UN member states respond to the trafficking of firearms and their components by organised criminal networks, the meeting offered delegates an opportunity to review recent data on the trafficking of guns within the EU, and discuss how the problem can be better addressed.
UNODC Organised Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch chief Loide Aryee opened proceedings by highlighting the importance of collecting and sharing data on illicit firearms flows, telling attendees that doing so improves detection of firearms-related crime.
The event was attended by nearly 70 experts in firearms trafficking from law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities from EU nation states and several other countries, a number of whom also identified spontaneous information sharing and international cooperation as major tools that can improve the tracing and disruption of illicit firearm flows.
Bringing the meeting to a close, the Head of the GFP Simonetta Grassi said: “UNODC, through its Global Firearms Programme, will keep promoting cooperation and the exchange of information and good practices between countries for effective results against firearms trafficking.
“We hope that one approach for this is the organisation of further cross-regional meetings that allow to zoom into one specific region while keeping the global dimension of the phenomenon in mind.”
Separately, a gun smuggler who went on the run from police after he was charged with attempting to traffic guns and ammunition into the UK has been jailed for 14 years.
Marius Supelis from Wisbech was found in possession of the weapons, which had been hidden inside a television, when he was stooped by customs officers in France in June 2014.
He was jailed on Wednesday at Peterborough Crown Court after being returned to the UK following his arrest in Spain last year.
Speaking after sentencing, DC Jolly Herod, from Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Department, said: “Guns and drugs have devastating effects on people’s lives and we will continue the fight to prevent their use and keep our streets free from the serious threat they pose.”
The problems created by the trafficking of illicit firearms within the EU have been brought into sharp focus over recent years following several major terrorist attacks involving automatic and semi-automatic weapons, particularly the Charlie Hebdo and Paris atrocities in 2015.
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