Colonel charged with gun smuggling
By Laura Rozen
Politico | 6/28/10
A retired U.S. Air Force colonel charged in the 1980s in an Iran-contra related weapons smuggling case has been indicted in a U.S. federal court in Miami with conspiring with an Israeli aeronautics engineer to illegally export 2,000 AK-47s to Somalia.
The June 17 indictment against Joseph O’Toole, 79, now based in Claremont, California, was unsealed today. POLITICO earlier Monday reported on the indictment of his Israeli co-defendant, Chanoch Miller. Miller, an Israeli citizen and former executive Israeli defense firm Radom Aviation, was arrested in Miami on June 18th and his indictment was unsealed on June 21.
O’Toole’s wife, reached by POLITICO at their home in Claremont, California Monday, said she had no comment.
O’Toole , then described as a Santa Ana-based aviation consultant, was charged in 1989 with conspiring with a controversial Israeli self-described former Mossad agent, Ari Ben-Menashe, and a Connecticut resident Richard St. Francis, with trying to sell three U.S. C-130 air cargo planes to Iran. But the charges against O’Toole were dropped in 1991 during the first Gulf War.
Beginning in April, according to the indictment, Miller and O’Toole conspired to obtain and transport hundreds of AK-47s from Bosnia to the northern Somalian city of Banderal, using false end user certificates of Chad, in violation of U.S. arms export control laws. Somalia is under a UN arms embargo. But the transport services source they contacted turned out to be an informant for the U.S. Customs and Immigrations Enforcement (ICE) agency, the indictment describes.
“On April 15, 2010, O’Toole sent an email to an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement confidential informant (hereafter CI) and asked if CI had Antonov 12 or similar line [aircraft] available for two charter flights from Bosnia to Africa to lift 12 tons on each flight for two round trips, landing in Africa “to unload mil equipments” and return to Bosnia for a second trip,” the indictment reads.
“On April 21, 2010, O’Toole sent an email to the CI and advised the CI that the cargo would be Boxed AK-47s, 6 to 7.6 tons, and that the CI could choose to use AN26 or AN12 aircraft from Tuzla Bosnia to Banderal, Northern Somalia and that payment would be made by wire transfer or cash before departure.”
“On April 21, 2010, O’Toole sent an email to the CI and advised that he has enough cargo for 100 flights if the first flight is successful.”
“On April 28, 2010, O’Toole sent an email to the CI and also sent a copy of the email to CHANOCH MILLER and advised that CHANOCH MILLER, who was the buyer in Israel and who would sign the contract and pay the CI, had accepted the price at least verbally but was hoping to get the first flight done sooner.”
On June 15, 2010, the indictment states, Miller wired $116,000 from an Israeli bank to a Broward County, Florida Wells Fargo branch to pay for the weapons and air transport as well as a $2,000 commission for O’Toole, the seven-count indictment said.
The case against Miller and O’Toole was brought by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo Ferrer and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Walleisa.