Monzer al-Kassar gets 30 and Chilean sidekick Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy sentenced to 25 years.
More Chilean criminals in international news. The party is starting to be over for all these holdovers from the privilege and arrogance of the Chilean military dictatorship. Although in the wonderfully lucrative and innocent business called arms sales thrives in democratic Chile as well and is detailed in the recent article by Miguel Paz for El Mostrador, here.
The Chilean, Luis Felipe Moreno Godoy, was a long time associate of the international arms dealer Monzer Al-Kassar who today was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for participating in a plan to sell arms to undercover Drug Enforcement Agents that were to be used to “kill americans in Colombia,” according to the press release.
Al-Kassar was sentenced to 30 years and ordered to forfeit all of his assets. His mansion in Marbella, Spain, el Palacio Mifadil, is currently up for sale for 17.5 million Euros.
Kassar and Moreno were found guilty after a three-week trial culminating on November 20, 2008 of “(1) conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals; (2) conspiracy to murder U.S. officers; (3) conspiracy to acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles; (4) conspiracy to provide material support and resources to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the “FARC”), a designated foreign terrorist organization; and (5) money laundering,” according to the release.
“As part of an undercover DEA sting operation, between February 2006 and June 2007, AL KASSAR and MORENO GODOY agreed to sell to the FARC more than 12,000 weapons — including thousands of machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and surface-to-air missile systems, or “SAMs” — along with 2 million rounds of ammunition.”
Moreno, 60, was caught in Bucharest a couple years ago, but had been living in Spain, where he was working for Al-Kassar as a personal assistant for many years, according to court documents and Chilean press reports.
He left Chile “clandestinely” in 1987, according to a short report in El Mercurio newspaper, after accumulating debts related to a money exchange business. Separated from his wife and far from his family his daughter commented to the press, “that it has been a long time since we have heard from him.”
Moreno Ocampo was an agent or assistant to the Chilean intelligence services, the CNI, during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, according to a report in La Nacion newspaper in 2007.
“Moreno, según un ex oficial de la Central Nacional de Informaciones (CNI) que conversó con LND, fue uno de sus hombres de confianza que trabajó con él en Chile en los años ochenta,” according to the article.
He was introduced to Al-Kassar by a friend of the CNI and of Al-Kassar, Edgardo Bathich Villaroel, in the late 1980s, according to the news report in La Nacion which used a former agent of the CNI as a source.
Bathich is of Syrian origin who met Al-Kassar in the early 80s in visits to their mutual town of origin, according to news reports, and are related by the marriage between distant family members.
Through Bathich is also a web of connections that links the son of deceased dictator of Chile Augusto Pinochet, the brother of a leading right wing politician, the son of the general of the Air Force, and a cousin of Jesus Ochoa Velasquez of the Medellin Cartel, and others to a car parts business, Focus Motors, which was accused of being a front company for a massive cocaine trafficking and money laundering business from 1986 to 1991. Much of this, as well as Al-Kassar’s participation, is detailed in the book Linea Delgada Blanca, or the Thin White Line, by Rodrigo de Castro and extensive articles in La Nacion and by Juan Gasparini. They were ordered to pay 170 million peso fine and serve 200 days in prison for tax evasion and fraud charges.
In 1992 Bathich was caught with a fake passport as a he traveled through a Spanish airport along with Al-Kassar. It was reported that similarly manufactured fake passports were used by the family members of Pinochet to hide their international travel.
Bathich was let go, but Al-Kassar was taken to be processed accused as a financier and arms supplier of a terrorist operation which hijacked the Achille Lauro luxury liner in 1985.
Al-Kassar has also been accused of aiding in the attempted assassination of an Israeli spy, and supply the Somali and Bosnian civil wars with Ak-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, according to an extensive report in the Village Voice in 2007. But until now he has always beat the charges. According to an interview by Aram Roston of NBC news in 2006,
” Kassar told me he became an arms dealer back in the 1970s, when the government of Communist Yemen, a Soviet client state, gave him a diplomatic passport. He shrugged, as if it was all no big deal. “I’m not here now to remember, of course,” he said. “I’ve worked more that 20 years in the arms business. I have never seen a gun. Believe or not. You go to the ministry, on the catalog, they give us the code or the name: ‘We want ak47’ and we go and sign the ministry.”
Bathich had fled Chile in late 1992 and sought refuge in Al-Kassar’s home, the Mifadil Palace, a 16 bedroom over 3200 square meters and on a property of 10,000 square meters, guarded by three mastiffs.
The connections between Bathich and the intimate circles of the Pinochet dictatorship are extensive. Bathich even flew a helicopter in a detention operation run by the CNI to capture of leftist militant accused of kidnapping in the late 1980s.
So what’s the point? One, that the web of deep connections between bad guys around the world is legitimate, Two, that the Chileans, products of the military dictatorship of Pinochet were in the thick of it, and Three, that now these guys are going down, like never before.