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Two Ohio men plead guilty to arms trafficking in West Michigan

• Nov 1, 2018 at 9:00 AM

GRAND RAPIDS —  Two Ohio men each pleaded guilty before a federal judge this week under a plea agreement to one count of conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act in a conspiracy to traffic firearms in West Michigan.

The guilty pleas were accepted by U.S. District Judge Gordon J. Quist and both defendants were adjudicated guilty.

Abdul Majid Saidi, 42, and Walid Mounir Chehade, 38 — both from the Cleveland area — will now face a maximum of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. They are scheduled to be sentenced in February 2019.

Saidi and Chehade admitted at their plea hearings that they conspired with Gilbert Elian in the Grand Rapids area to conceal 20 semiautomatic pistols wrapped in felt and plastic inside automobile engine blocks and transmissions. Many of the firearms were purchased in West Michigan. Those engine blocks and transmissions were then placed in a cargo shipping container addressed to a consignee in Beirut, Lebanon.

The cargo container shipment was intercepted after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection in Virginia.

Elian was convicted of the same offense in 2016.

“Abdul Majid Saidi and Walid Mounir Chehade flouted laws designed to control the export of defense articles and international arms trafficking,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said.

The case was jointly investigated by HSI Grand Rapids, IRS Criminal Investigations Grand Rapids, ATF Grand Rapids, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Grand Rapids Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Clay M. West prosecuted the case.

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