Gunning for Profit

Opportunists make a fortune supplying guerrillas and terrorists from South Florida gun shops

Another nine months passed. The ATF recorded 780 hours of conversations and meetings preparing for the sale. Finally, Abbas and Malik allegedly brought in a couple of New Jersey men to help arrange the deal. The two new operatives would appear on the day of the sale while the Pakistani pair remained at home. All they needed was someone to launder the money. They asked Stoltz for help.

Coincidentally, federal agents were already trying to bust a Wall Street financial manager named Kevin Ingram for money laundering. This seemed like the perfect chance to combine both cases. On June 6, 2001, Stoltz, posing as an arms smuggler, met Ingram at Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Aventura, where Ingram and wife De Ann owned a home. It's where Ingram parked his yellow Ferrari and his 44-foot Sea Ray named Ingee. Sitting at Aventura Grill just off the golf course, Stoltz told Ingram he was about to arrange an arms deal and needed his help to launder the money. Stoltz explained that the guns were probably destined for terrorists.

Ingram didn't like the sound of that. "I'm a professional, and I have a reputation," he said, apparently implying that his status would be tainted with money from terrorists. "But I don't mind making money."

Colby Katz
Gunshows, like a recent one (above) in Fort Lauderdale, have been frequented by weapons smugglers. Pistols and revolvers (left) in the ATF's evidence locker are exhibits in the trials of gunrunners busted in Miami.
Colby Katz
Gunshows, like a recent one (above) in Fort Lauderdale, have been frequented by weapons smugglers. Pistols and revolvers (left) in the ATF's evidence locker are exhibits in the trials of gunrunners busted in Miami.

Ingram left without agreeing to the deal, but then he paged Stoltz less than an hour after the meeting. By telephone, Ingram said he knew a Connecticut pilot named Walter Kapij who could help whisk the money out of the country. For their part, Ingram and Kapij demanded 20 percent, or $2.2 million.

Finally, two years after the meeting in West Palm Beach, the pieces of the transaction came together. Ingram and Kapij were to meet the undercover ATF agents in Fort Lauderdale to get their cut of the money. Depositing a couple of million in a bank account would attract attention, so Kapij and Ingram were to rent a plane in Boca Raton and fly the money to Holland, where it would shuffle through enough foreign bank accounts until it seemed to disappear. After the transfer, Stoltz was to deliver the missiles and other goods to the New Jersey businessmen, who would ship the stuff to Pakistan.

Before his big windfall, Ingram had a blowout dinner at Opium Garden on Miami Beach, spending $468. He paid about $300 for two rooms at the Embassy Suites in downtown Fort Lauderdale for himself and Kapij and waited for the money to arrive the next morning.

At 10 a.m. on June 12, 2001, agents showed up with a duffle bag supposedly full of cash. They handed it to Ingram and then arrested him and Kapij for money laundering. What followed would be no less than a media circus; stories appeared in every major newspaper, and Dateline NBC devoted a segment to the deal. It appeared the government had nailed terrorists in the act of creating nuclear missiles and buying enough weapons to arm an uprising.

Once again, the low-level operators in the deal agreed to turn informant on each other in exchange for lenient sentences, meaning none of them will spend more than a few months in prison. Ingram and the two New Jersey men who organized the deal got out earlier this year after agreeing to testify against Abbas and Malik. According to court papers, Ingram had $1.7 million from prior earnings socked away in a Swiss bank account.

The worst punishment fell on Kapij, who knew so little about the deal that his testimony wasn't worth much. He's still serving a 33-month sentence. His attorney, Jim Eisenberg, says it shows a failure in the federal court system, where judges too frequently give breaks to snitches. "The people who are the real criminals can turn over, and their sentences are cut in half," Eisenberg says. "The little guys, who can't turn in anyone else, get stuck doing the time."

As for the testimony of the others, they all told prosecutors the deal was crafted by Abbas and Malik from Pakistan. It was they who wanted the guns in the hands of terrorists, they testified. The pair are living freely in Pakistan, even though the U.S. government has warrants out for their arrest. Agents won't comment on the reasons why the Pakistani government hasn't extradited the pair.

The missiles and heavy water never made it to Pakistan. But apparently, the millions they had agreed to pay for all those weapons may still be in their control. If they're still looking for weapons, they surely know where to shop.

On the day of his sentencing at the federal courthouse in Miami, Vega, the Ecuadorian gun dealer, made one last attempt to stay out of prison. He told U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez that he'd be willing to turn over one of the guns he bought in Miami to the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador. It's not the Bushmaster rifles but an Uzi, a hand-held .9mm that can be made into a machine gun. He said he was a collector and was holding onto the gun for his private stash. "That weapon that has caused me so much pain and suffering," Vega said, "I have that weapon in my house." He said all he needed to do was call his wife and let her know authorities would come and pick it up.

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