Owner of District Heights Shipping Company Convicted of Illegally Attempting to Export Arms to Lebanon and Smuggling
GREENBELT, MD—A federal jury convicted Sam Rafic Ghanem, age 45, of Springfield, Virginia, today for attempting to illegally export defense articles, specifically firearms parts and accessories, to Lebanon, and for smuggling goods from the United States.
The conviction was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Clark E. Settles of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Ghanem, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Lebanon, owned and operated Washington Movers International, also known as Washington Movers, Inc., a freight forwarding business located in District Heights, Maryland.
According to evidence presented at his five day trial, beginning October 3, 2013, Ghanem sought to export guns and accessories to Lebanon through his shipping company that were provided to him by an FBI source. Ghanem knew that the weapons and accessories were designated as defense articles and required an export license, which Ghanem never sought or obtained. In addition, those items are prohibited from export to Lebanon. The specific items Ghanem attempted to export included: seven 9mm semi-automatic pistols; three .40 caliber semi-automatic pistols; 10 AR-15 .223 caliber semi-automatic rifles; and 18 advanced combat optic gun sights.
According to trial evidence, on November 21, 2013, Ghanem told the source to pay him $3,000 for the cost of purchasing salvaged vehicles which would be used to export the firearms and accessories. Ghanem texted the source his bank account number and at the direction of law enforcement, the source deposited $3,000 into Ghanem’s account. Ghanem purchased the salvaged vehicles and arranged for them to be cut up. Ghanem concealed the weapons and other items within the doors and cut-up parts of the salvaged vehicles, which were then loaded into a shipping container. Ghanem advised the source that the shipping container would be loaded with the remaining car parts and transported to the Port of Baltimore for shipment to Lebanon on December 23, 2013. Ghanem was subsequently arrested.
Ghanem faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for attempting to illegally export defense articles, and 10 years in prison for smuggling. U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus has scheduled sentencing for August 12, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations Washington, D.C., for their work in the investigation and thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection for its assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine Manuelian and Joseph R. Baldwin, who are prosecuting the case.