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September 27, 2013

Like a page from Breaking Bad or Tom Clancy ...


Here's one straight from AMC's thriller #BreakingBad, about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who became a big-time meth amphetamine cook, or one of Clancy's international techno crime and spy novels.

Five former soldiers from three countries, including a contract killer alleged to have murdered several people, all tangled in a plot to smuggle 11 pounds of cocaine into the United States. To provide security for supposed Columbian narcotics traffickers, three of them agreed to take out a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and a DEA informant, a federal indictment unveiled in New York on Friday, Sept. 27th says.

The DEA and U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York announced the arrests of three of those men -- former U.S. Army soldiers Joseph Hunter and Timothy Vamvakias, and former German soldier Dennis Gogel, all being flown to New York to appear before a federal magistrate.

“The bone-chilling allegations in today's Indictment read like they were ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel," said Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District. "The charges tell a tale of an international band of mercenary marksmen who enlisted their elite military training to serve as hired guns for evil ends. Three of the defendants were ready, willing and eager to take cold hard cash to commit the cold-blooded murders of a DEA agent and an informant. Thanks to the determined, skillful and intrepid efforts of the DEA's Special Operations Division, an international hit team has been neutralized by agents working on four continents.”

Alleged contract assassin Hunter -- also known as "Frank Robinson" (apologies to the ex-Baltimore Oriole superstar) and "Rambo," (apologies to you, too, Sylvester S.) and his cronies held meetings in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean beginning last January with two confidential DEA sources purporting to be Colombia drug traffickers, prosecutors said. Ultimately, the trio arrested Friday agreed to assassinate a DEA agent and an agency informant in Liberia for about $700,000, with Hunter collecting a $100,000 bonus for running the show. They allegedly acquired a sub-machine gun, two .22 caliber pistols and latex facemasks so they'd each look like they had a different racial origin.

They were seized after arriving in Liberia. DEA agents around the world, Royal Thai police and law enforcement agents from Liberia, Estonia, the Bahamas and Romania assisted in smashing the plot.




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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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