Third person sentenced in Cedar Rapids gun smuggling case - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Third person sentenced in Cedar Rapids gun smuggling case

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

A third person is sentenced in a local gun smuggling case.  51-year-old Ali Al Herz, of Cedar Rapids, pleading guilty to charges in connection to illegally sending firearms to Lebanon.  He was given 28-and-a-half years in prison.

Al Herz, his brother Bassem Herz, sister-in-law Sarah Zeaiter and his son Adam Herz were arrested in May of 2015.  Authorities intercepted shipping containers of multiple guns and ammunition headed from Cedar Rapids to Lebanon.

Investigators say the weapons were in plastic Pizza Daddy bags, a restaurant in Cedar Rapids.  They believe the family was making money by sending them to a terrorist organization.

Adam was sentenced to 20 years in prison earlier this month, and Zeaiter was given more than seven years.  Sentencing for Bassem is set for November 7.

Kevin W. Techau, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa stated, “These defendants were bold and brazen gun traffickers. They knew they were violating U.S. laws enacted to prevent smuggling to foreign countries. Stopping the illegal flow of weapons, weapons parts, and ammunition is a key priority for law enforcement.”

“We are especially thankful to the citizens of Iowa who assisted law enforcement by providing tips and leads that resulted in an investigation of an international weapons smuggler by Homeland Security Investigations,” said Alex Khu, Special Agent in Charge for HSI St. Paul, which oversees Iowa. “This investigation exemplifies the importance of maintaining strong ties to the communities that law enforcement serves, and that law abiding citizens can truly make a difference by reporting suspicious activities. Had law enforcement not intervened, Mr. Al Herz would have exported a large number of weapons that could have been used in countless crimes. HSI is committed to investigating and seeking charges against those intent on violating U.S. export laws.”

“Among ATF’s top priorities is ensuring that firearms traffickers are aggressively investigated and swiftly brought to justice. This is an excellent example of such an investigation that was worked cooperatively by multiple partner agencies with outstanding results,” said Jeff Fulton, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Kansas City Field Division.

“The joint effort to bring this case to a successful conclusion undoubtedly saved lives due to the number and types of weapons recovered during the course of the investigation. The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat violent criminal activity and protect our communities,” stated Special Agent-in-Charge Randall Thysse, Omaha Division.

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Previous Story - http://www.kwwl.com/story/29041790/2015/05/Tuesday/federal-investigation-at-cedar-rapids-restaurant

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