Alleged Pakistani gun runner arrested in US!

Daily Times, June 17, 2005
Alleged Pakistani gun runner arrested in US

MEXICO CITY: Mexican authorities in Tijuana, a city near the US-Mexico border, detained and deported a Pakistani man who is under investigation by US prosecutors for alleged weapons trafficking, and US police took him into custody on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Pakistani citizen Arif Durrani was detained as he left a restaurant in Playas de Rosarito, near Tijuana, by Mexican police acting on information from US authorities, the attorney general’s office said in a press statement.

Durrani was deported by Mexico on a flight to Pakistan, but he was taken into US custody during a layover in Los Angeles, said US consular spokeswoman Liza Davis in Tijuana. Another US official speaking on customary condition of anonymity confirmed that Durrani was currently the target of an ongoing arms trafficking investigation.

Durrani was convicted in the United States in 1987 of selling missile parts to Iran; a former US resident, he was deported from the United States in 1998, and has apparently lived in Mexico since then. It was not clear if that investigation was related to Durrani’s prior conviction, in which he claimed to have acted as part of the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved secret US arms sales to Iran to fund Contra rebels fighting the left-wing Nicaraguan government.

US officials refused to divulge specific details of the current investigation; the Mexican statement said “Durrani faces an arrest warrant in the United States for trafficking in anti-aircraft missiles.”

Durrani was deported in 1998 after serving a five-year US prison sentence for violating the Arms Export Control Act for selling anti-aircraft missile parts to Iran.

In 2003, Durrani petitioned a US court to have his conviction overturned, and asked to review more government documents in an attempt to prove he sold the parts at the behest of former Lt Col Oliver North and other US officials. Durrani claims he was part of the US effort to exchange arms for American hostages held in Lebanon. He said North, a former National Security Council aide, told him to ship the missile parts to Iran and not to worry about getting an export license.

Mexican authorities said Durrani was detained earlier this week along with three Afghan-born men and a Syrian, all of whom apparently entered Tijuana from the United States.

The five were picked up as federal police and soldiers were deployed over the weekend to reinforce local police struggling against a surge in violence linked to drug gangs along the Mexico side of the US border.

None of the five had a Mexican tourist visa, and all were considered to be in the country without permission. ap

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