NEWARK, N.J. – Four men, including two New Jersey residents, were arrested Thursday and charged with conspiring to sell seven stolen firearms believed to have belonged to the family of Saddam Hussein, the late Iraqi president. The arrests and joint investigation were conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The following four men were charged with one count each of conspiracy to transport stolen firearms and conspiracy to sell and receive stolen property: David Phillip Ryan, 48, of Miami, Fla.; Karlo Christian Sauer, 42, of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Howard A. Blumenthal, 74, of Fort Lee, N.J.; and Carola M. Quirola, aka Carlos Quirola-Ordonez, 55, of New Milford, N.J. Ryan is also charged with one count of unlawfully mailing firearms. Blumenthal and Quirola made their initial court appearances Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court. Ryan made his initial appearance in federal court in the Southern District of Florida; and Sauer made his in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
"Trading another country's cultural treasures or artifacts is a major crime that HSI actively investigates," said Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of HSI Newark. "In this case, we are talking about the weapons of a dictator who brought untold suffering during his reign. These weapons are not for sale to the highest bidder, and HSI, along with our law enforcement partners, have taken the appropriate steps to return these properties to their rightful owners."
According to court documents, in April 2012, law enforcement received information that valuable firearms allegedly belonging to members of the family of the late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein were available for sale ("Hussein Family Firearms"). The Hussein Family Firearms were believed to be kept in Florida, and attempts were made to find a buyer for the weapons in New Jersey.
The federal investigation revealed that the four defendants worked together to try to find a buyer for the Hussein Family Firearms in New Jersey. The firearms had been appraised at $250,000 to $350,000. During the course of the conspiracy, seven firearms were shipped to New Jersey for viewing by potential buyers.
Federal law enforcement officers seized the following firearms during the investigation:
- One Coonan Arms Inc., .357-caliber semi-automatic pistol, nickel finish, made in St. Paul, Minn., with gold inlay and a medallion "QS" on left side grip (believed to be the initials of Qusay Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, the second son of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein).
- One Korth, .357 magnum revolver (six shot) stamped "Made in W. Germany Waffenfabrik Koth Ratzeburg/LBG," with gold inlay, black finish, wood grips, which displays a drawing of a wild boar.
- One Korth, .357 magnum, revolver (six shot) stamped "Made in W. Germany Waffenfabrik Koth Ratzeburg/LBG," with gold inlay, black finish, wood grips, which displays a drawing of a moose.
- One Chinese State Factories type 64 pistol, .32-caliber semi-auto pistol, black finish, with Yemen flag icon on both sides of grip and Arabic writing on the slide.
- Two Cosmi, 12-gauge shotguns, break top, single barrel.
- One Llama Semiautomatic .45-caliber ACP pistol with gold leaf and gold inlays, hand engraved, bearing the initials "Q.S."
The counts with which the four defendants are charged are punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The unlawful mailing count, which Ryan is additionally charged with, is punishable by a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.