NEWS

Greek accused of supporting Colombian rebels sentenced in US

A man accused of attempting to provide Colombian rebels with rocket-propelled grenade launchers was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a federal judge in New York City, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Ioannis Viglakis, a 54-year-old Greek national, was arrested in Panama City two years ago for attempting to supply weapons to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) rebel group, the Manhattan US Attorney said in a statement.

FARC is designated a terrorist organization by Washington and runs large cocaine trafficking operations.

Viglakis, who went by the alias “Pablo,” was extradited to the United States and pleaded guilty to the crimes last December, the statement said. US Attorney Preet Bharara said the group has used those types of military-grade weapons to shoot down American planes flying over the country.

An undercover agent with the US Drug Enforcement Administration posing as a FARC associate first began contacting Viglakis in November 2011 and held multiple meetings with him from Europe to Central America in the ensuing months.

Viglakis told the agent he could provide the rebels with weapons to attack Colombian and American government forces in exchange for cocaine and cash, and arranged the delivery of three rocket-propelled grenade launchers and live ammunition to the agent in July 2012.

In subsequent meetings, Viglakis paid the agent 8,500 euros to make a shipment of cocaine to Spain on his behalf and offered to trade 200 hand grenades to the agent for more of the drug, the statement said.

“For attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization in this way, Viglakis has been sentenced to 120 months in prison,” Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in the statement.

Attorneys for Viglakis did not immediately respond to a request for comment. [Reuters]

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