Sunday, April 22, 2018
Public safety

Two men arrested in bay area smuggled firearms out of the U.S., authorities said

Mahmoud Assaf

Mahmoud Assaf, 45

Yasser Obeid

Yasser Obeid, 19

TAMPA — Two men who authorities said used vehicles bought at car auctions to smuggle firearms to the Middle East were arrested Wednesday, the United States Attorney's office said.

Authorities said Mahmoud Abdel-Ghani Mohammad Assaf, 45, of Jordan and Yasser Ahmad Obeid, 19, a citizen of Lebanon and legal permanent resident living in St. Petersburg, are part of a network smuggling firearms from the United States to the Middle East. The firearms were concealed in vehicles bought at used car auctions in Central Florida and then exported to countries in Africa and the Middle East, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Obeid and Assaf, a Jordanian national in the United States on a visitor's visa, have been charged with conspiring to smuggle firearms from the United States, conspiring to deal in firearms without a license and to ship and receive firearms in interstate and foreign commerce.

Assaf and Obeid, if convicted, could face 10 years in prison on each firearms and export violation charge and five years for the conspiracy offenses.

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