NEW YORK – Two former American soldiers – one nicknamed “Rambo” – and a German ex-soldier faced charges Friday that they plotted to kill a U.S. drug enforcement agent and an informant for $800,000 in an assassination plan created by drug agents who wanted to catch trained military snipers gone bad, authorities said.
The charges were announced by prosecutors in Manhattan, where an indictment unsealed in federal court portrayed a trio of ex-soldiers eager to kill for money. “That’s fun, actually; for me, that’s fun. I love this work,” the ex-German soldier was quoted in court papers as saying.
The documents described numerous conversations at meetings in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean from January through September that were recorded by Drug Enforcement Administration agents building a case through confidential sources posing as Colombian drug traffickers.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a news conference.
The indictment described Joseph Hunter, 48, known as “Rambo,” as a contract killer and leader of the group of ex-snipers. Hunter was being flown Friday to New York after he was expelled from Thailand, Bharara said.
Hunter recruited several ex-soldiers in late 2012 and early this year to be a security team for drug traffickers, said the indictment. According to the court papers, the DEA’s sources promised Hunter at a March meeting in an Asian country that his security team would be protecting thousands of kilograms of marijuana and would be seeing “tons of cocaine and millions of dollars.”
Also charged in the assassination plot were Timothy Vamvakias, 42, and Dennis Gogel, 27, a German citizen. Both men pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court.