A 48-year-old former U.S. Army sergeant was accused of being the ringleader of a five-man squad that acted as a hit squad for drug traffickers, CNN reported on Friday.
Joseph Hunter, as well as his accomplices, was charged with conspiracy to murder a law enforcement agent, conspiracy to kill a person to prevent communications to law enforcement, conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States and other drug and weapons-related crimes.
Hunter was due to arrive in New York on Friday night after being extradited from Thailand, where he was arrested. Two of his alleged cohorts, 42-year-old Timothy Vamvakias -- like Hunter, an ex-Army sergeant -- and 27-year-old ex-German Army member Dennis Gogel arrived in New York Thursday following extradition from Liberia. The group was contracted to kill a federal drug agent and an informant.
"The bone-chilling allegations in today's indictment read like they were ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel," CNN quoted U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara as saying. "The charges tell a tale of an international band of mercenary marksmen who enlisted their elite military training to serve as hired guns for evil ends."
Authorities accused Hunter of recruiting his team over the course of the past year and promising them "tons of cocaine and millions of dollars" for their involvement, and turned over their resumes to undercover agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, posing as members of a Colombian drug cartel. Hunter also allegedly boasted about doing multiple "bonus jobs," as contract killings are often referred to, and expressed interest in doing as many of them as possible.
The indictment against Hunter states that he was in the Army from 1983 to 2004, eventually serving as a squad leader on multiple occasions, as well as a marksmanship and sniper instructor. Reuters reported that after leaving the Army, Hunter has worked as a killer-for-fire and has arranged for multiple murders.
Watch footage from Bharara's statement, aired by CNN on Friday, below.
[Image: "Armed Man In Black Mask Pointing A Gun In Camera" via Shutterstock]