Turkish, Syrian men extradited to U.S. to face drug charges

October 27, 2016 6:30 PM EDT

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(Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Thursday said two men from Syria and Turkey have been extradited to face criminal charges that they tried to sell military-grade weapons to purported Mexican drug traffickers to help them ship cocaine to the United States.

Turkish citizen Memet Gezer, 49, and Syrian citizen Saber Karimch, 50, were arrested by Montenegrin authorities in April and were extradited to the United States on Thursday to face charges filed in federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, between September 2015 and March 2016, Gezer and Karimch during recorded conversations with undercover U.S. informants posing as Mexican drug traffickers agreed to supply them with machine guns, grenades and other weapons.

Gezer and Karimch sought the deals with the understanding that the weapons would be used to protect cocaine shipments as they traveled from Mexico for distribution in the United States, prosecutors said.

Gezer also offered to sell the agents large amounts of U.S. currency at a fraction of its value in the belief that it could be used to launder money for the traffickers, prosecutors said.

Lawyers for Gezer and Karimch could not be immediately identified. They were expected to appear in court later on Thursday.

Both men face counts for conspiracy and attempt to import cocaine into the United States that carry mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years and maximum terms of life in prison.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne and Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)



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