Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

The Stoner Arms Dealers

How two American kids became big-time weapons traders — until the Pentagon turned on them

Rolling Stone Politics

HIGH ON WAR: David Packouz (left) and Efraim Diveroli at a gun range near Miami (top). One of the illegal shipments of ammo they supplied to the Afghan army (bottom).

The e-mail confirmed it: everything was finally back on schedule after weeks of maddening, inexplicable delay. A 747 cargo plane had just lifted off from an airport in Hungary and was banking over the Black Sea toward Kyrgyzstan, some 3,000 miles to the east. After stopping to refuel there, the flight would carry on to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Aboard the plane were 80 pallets loaded with nearly 5 million rounds of ammunition for AK-47s, the Soviet-era assault rifle favored by the Afghan National Army.

Reading the e-mail back in Miami Beach, David Packouz breathed a sigh of relief. The shipment was part of a $300 million contract that Packouz and his partner, Efraim Diveroli, had won from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. It was May 2007, and the war was going badly. After six years of fighting, Al Qaeda remained a menace, the Taliban were resurgent, and NATO casualties were rising sharply. For the Bush administration, the ammunition was part of a desperate, last-ditch push to turn the war around before the U.S. presidential election the following year. To Packouz and Diveroli, the shipment was part of a major arms deal that promised to make them seriously rich.

This article appears in the March 31, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone. The issue is available now on newsstands and will appear in the online archive March 18.

Reassured by the e-mail, Packouz got into his brand-new blue Audi A4 and headed home for the evening, windows open, the stereo blasting. At 25, he wasn’t exactly used to the pressures of being an international arms dealer. Only months earlier, he had been making his living as a massage therapist; his studies at the Educating Hands School of Massage had not included classes in military contracting or geopolitical brinkmanship. But Packouz hadn’t been able to resist the temptation when Diveroli, his 21-year-old friend from high school, had offered to cut him in on his burgeoning arms business. Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history.

Please read the entire article here

March 25, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Efraim Diveroli, AEY, Sentenced for Defrauding the Defense Department

The sale of banned Chinese ammunition to the U.S. Army in Afghanistan landed the 25-year-old from Miami Beach in trouble, and led to his guilty plea.

Efraim Diveroli after his arrest for drunk driving on Miami Beach in 2008. MIAMI-DADE

BY JAY WEAVER at The Miami Herald

jweaver@MiamiHerald.com

Efraim Diveroli, an arms-dealing wunderkind from Miami Beach who had scored a $300 million munitions contract with the Pentagon, was sentenced Monday to four years in prison by a federal judge who scolded him for a life of deception, gambling and substance abuse.

Diveroli, now 25, captured the attention of Congress when he was arrested in 2008 on charges of selling banned Chinese ammunition to the U.S. Army to supply Afghan forces fighting insurgents. He pleaded guilty the next year to one count of conspiring to defraud the Department of Defense.

“It is a sad day when anyone values their self-worth by a dollar sign,” U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard told Diveroli, whose emotional sentencing was attended by about 50 family members and supporters.

“If it wasn’t so amazing, you would laugh that such a young man could attain such responsibilities,” she said, noting he won the massive military contract when he was only 21 years old.

“But to participate in such a fraud when people are putting their lives on the line, it makes it so much sadder,” she said. “It makes the heart ache. And all for money.”

Please read the entire story here

January 4, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Department of Defense, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contractor in ammunition scheme now target of Orlando federal prosecutors

AP and Orlando Sentinal

A 24-year-old Miami Beach man accused in a scheme to illegally ship nearly $300 million in Chinese-made ammunition to Afghan soldiers is now the target of an Orlando federal criminal investigation.

Efraim Diveroli, a military contractor who pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in a South Florida federal case last year, was arrested Friday.

A criminal complaint filed in Orlando charges Diveroli with two counts: possessing firearms as a convicted felon and possessing firearms by a person under indictment for a felony offense.

At a hearing Monday in Orlando federal court, a magistrate judge found Diveroli is a flight risk and ordered he be jailed pending trial.

Diveroli was president of AEY Inc., a Miami Beach firm awarded a $298 million U.S. Army contract to provide ammunition to Afghanistan.

Under the contract, ammunition exported from China was forbidden. Federal prosecutors in South Florida said AEY did it anyway, and claimed the rounds were from Albania.

Authorities said AEY bought much of the ammunition from Albania’s Military Export and Import Co., which purchased large amounts of Chinese ammunition.

AEY removed traces of the Chinese manufacturer and gave the U.S. Army written certification the ammunition came from Albania, authorities said.

Federal prosecutors in South Florida indicted Diveroli on more than 80 charges.

In August 2009, Diveroli pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and is considered a felon. He had been free from jail on bond pending his sentencing in that case, which was slated for November.

Central Florida agents began investigating Diveroli in July, when they received a tip from a local person, identified only as a “cooperating source,” who is a “federal firearms licensee,” according to the criminal complaint.

The source told an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that Diveroli called and offered a pallet of ammunition for sale. Diveroli also suggested they partner to buy and sell machineguns, the complaint said.

The source, who had no prior contact or a business relationship with Diveroli, notified ATF to report the suspicious behavior.

An ATF agent went undercover and had several conversations with Diveroli, the criminal complaint said.

During one conversation, Diveroli reportedly said he does not want direct involvement in the ammunition business, but said he keeps getting drawn back into it. “Once a gun runner, always a gun runner,” Diveroli allegedly said.

Diveroli admitted to being at a shooting range during one conversation and about a week later, said he was hunting alligators, white tail deer and hogs in the Everglades, the complaint said.

On Friday, Diveroli met with the undercover agent in Brevard County, even though he wasn’t allowed to travel there because of his pending criminal case in South Florida.

It was during that meeting that Diveroli allegedly handled several of the undercover agent’s firearms.

August 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment