An ex-U.S. soldier named Joseph “Rambo” Hunter and his hand-selected team of ex-soldier mercenaries were charged today for allegedly plotting to kill a U.S. drug enforcement agent and an informant for money.
The conspiracy spans continents and involves a potential hit in an undisclosed African country, meetings in the Asia, and a plan to smuggle huge amounts of cocaine into New York.
The group was eventually brought down when undercover agents hired the group, trained to murder for money or arrange the murders, to carry out the hit of the DEA agent and boat captain informant.
Hunter, 48, another ex-U.S. Army sergeant named Timothy Vamvakias, and a German ex-soldier named Dennis Gogel are charged in the murder plot. Two other ex-soldiers face drug charges.
scroll down to read the entire indictment document, which was unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Bharara: As alleged, Joseph Hunter had killed before for $ & he & his men, wanted more of it. These are the motives of professional killers.
— SDNYnews (@SDNYnews) September 27, 2013
Here is what you need to know about Rambo, his band of mercenaries and the alleged web of murder, drugs and intrigue.
1. He’s an Ex-U.S. Army Sergeant and Sniper Instructor
Hunter served in the Army from 1983 to 2004. There is also a chance is he from Owensboro, Kentucky.
JUST IN: US Army confirms one of two men arrested for plotting to kill DEA agent overseas is SFC Joseph Hunter from Owensboro.
— Brandon Bartlett (@Brandon14News) September 27, 2013
2. He’s Accused of Being a Contract Killer Since 2004
The indictment says that Hunter became a gun-for-hire in 2004, killing and providing protection for various drug distribution operations.
3. He Has Admitted Arranging a Previous Murder for Money
In listing his experience and credentials, Hunter revealed his previous encounters with plotting and arranging murders for money.
4. He has Multiple Aliases
5. He Recruited Four Former Soldiers
In recruiting the team, four former snipers from the United States, Poland, and Germany were chosen. All of them, according to the indictment, were anxious to conduct “bonus work” meaning killing.
6. The Mercenaries Were Caught in a Sting in a Plot to Kill a DEA Agent and an Informant
In March 2013, an undercover U.S. agent posing as a Colombian drug distributor hired Hunter and his team to serve as protection for millions of dollars and tons of marijuana and cocaine. For months, the crew was set at the task of watching a boat to conduct “counter-surveillance” to see if the police were watching its movements.
After one particular mission, Hunter expressed to an undercover source posing as a narcotics trafficker that his team was anxious to get some “bonus work,” meaning murder. Hunter wrote via email,”Everyone is ready to go, just waiting further instructions. They also, really want a bonus job after this next mission, if available.”
It was in May 2013 that the confidential informants told Hunter and his team about potential “bonus work” killing a DEA agent and an informant in an undisclosed African nation.
Gogel, Vamvakias, and Hunter were set to receive $700,00 for the two kills, with Hunter set to collect and additional $100,000 for arranging the operation.
7. The Operation Was to Be Fast and They Debated How to Do It
The team discussed the best way to kill the DEA agent and DEA informant, which were supposedly in an undisclosed African nation. Vamvakias and Gogel, according to the indictment”
offered their ideas and plans for how to commit the murders, including using machine guns, cyanide, or a grenade, and the need for masks and appropriate weapons.
8. They Requested Silenced Machine Guns to Kill
Part of what the team requested in their, “list of items needed for the job,” were two small sub machine guns with silencers, concealment vests, and a 308 scoped rifle.
9. They had Sophisticated Equipment, Including Masks That Appear to Change the Wearer’s Race
In another meeting, masks were procured that would make the would-be assassins look as if they were another race. The masks, “could be smuggled into African Country-2 in advance of the murders.”
The crew also made arrangements with the undercover informants for after the hit. Hunter asked:
For equipment recovery, do you want the stuff back or is it disposable?…What I think probably will happen is, though, they will put it in a pre-determined place and it will be there and you can have somebody pick it up..You see, going from the kill zone to wherever, of course they got to get rid of whatever it is.
10. They are Charged With an Assortment of Crimes