NEWS

Four family members accused of smuggling guns to Lebanon face more charges 

Indictment doesn't mention Midamar's clothing drive

(From left to right) Adam Ben Ali Herz, Ali Afif Al Herz, Bassem Afif Herz, Sarah Majid Zeaiter
(From left to right) Adam Ben Ali Herz, Ali Afif Al Herz, Bassem Afif Herz, Sarah Majid Zeaiter

CEDAR RAPIDS — The four family members charged with smuggling guns to Lebanon were indicted Thursday and now face 46 charges, including dealing and shipping firearms without a license and money laundering.

The indictment details alleged money laundering transactions to export firearms and ammunition without a license, lists 58 firearms and ammunition purchased by at least two of the four family members, and includes the items being shipped from Cedar Rapids to Lebanon in two containers, including Bobcat skid loaders, which concealed the packages containing 53 firearms and 6,972 rounds of various ammunition.

Ali Afif Al Herz, 50, his brother Bassem Afif Herz, 30, and wife Sarah Majid Zeaiter, 24, and Ali’s son Adam Al Herz, 22, all of Cedar Rapids, have been indicted.

Ali Al Herz is charged with 24 counts of possessing firearms after having been previously convicted of domestic abuse; Bassem Al Herz is charged with firearms conspiracy; Zeaiter is charged with three counts of making false claims to United States citizenship on bank records and federal firearms forms; and Adam Al Herz is charged with 17 counts of possessing firearms as an unlawful drug user.

Ali Al Herz, Bassem Al Herz and Zeaiter will be arraigned Tuesday and Adam Al Herz will be arraigned Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

Each false claim to citizenship is punishable by up to three years in prison, unlawful possession of firearms is up to 10 years in prison, the firearms conspiracy is up to five years in prison and the money laundering is up to 20 years in prison. In addition, there is a fine up to $250,000 on each count. The indictment also includes a forfeiture of all the guns and ammunition involved in the criminal conduct.

All four defendants, starting in late 2013 and continuing through May 12, are accused of conspiring to deal firearms without a license, ship and transport firearms to Lebanon in containers without providing written notice that firearms and ammunition were in the packages, and making false statements to licensed firearms dealers for transactions records required by law, according to the indictment.

One or more of the defendants traveled internationally to deal firearms and ammunition to customers in Lebanon, the indictment contends. The funds to buy guns were tracked through bank accounts of the defendants, and the fictitious business name of “Herz Enterprises” was used to conduct the firearms purchases and in dealing with the shipments.

The indictment includes bank deposits and withdrawals of the defendants for thousands going in and out of their bank accounts for various amounts, from over $1,300 to $15,000, for the guns, ammunition and skid loaders.

Those transactions also include some wires sent from “Herz Ali Afif” Majdal Selem-Abou, in Lebanon to “Herz Enterprises” and Ali Herz for over $49,000 with a notation of “purchase industrial equipments.” Another wire transfer was from “Awada Mariam Mohamad SP Herz Afif” in Beirut for $44,965 with the notation “her daughter in law as family aid” to Zeiter’s bank account.

There is no information about who these individuals are or how they are connected to the defendants.

The money transactions also list $61,000 in cash brought back into the U.S. by Ali Herz after he was in Paris on Dec. 2. 2014.

There is no mention in this indictment of the clothing drive items collected by Midamar Corp. in the shipping containers. It only mentions both shipping containers were loaded at Midamar Corp., one in March and the other between May 6 and May 8.