An Iranian man and two Hells Angels members have been charged in a murder-for-hire plot in the United States
Two Canadian members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang conspired with an Iranian drug dealer to kill two dissidents who were living in Maryland, the Justice Department and federal officials said Monday.
Naji Sharifi Zindashti, also known as “The Big Man”. He has ties to Iranian intelligence servicesHe had been corresponding with Damion Patrick John Ryan for a month about various “jobs” when, in January 2021, he brought up a “specific job in the US,” according to a report. Federal grand jury indictment.
Ryan, who was communicating with Zindashti through an “encrypted communications service,” said it would be “difficult” but that he “may have someone to do it,” the indictment says.
That day, the indictment says, Ryan contacted Adam Richard Pearson, who said he would need two or three people, including a driver, and “could charge more than $100,000 for the job.”
US officials said Ryan responded that he would “get you what you want” but stressed that it must be “exaggerated.”
According to the indictment, Pearson promised to deliver that gruesome message, where he would allegedly encourage recruits for the position to “shoot.” [the victim] In the head a lot [to] Make an example” and “We must erase his head from his torso.”
In the end, none of the Iranian dissidents lost their heads or lives.
“As alleged, Mr. Zindashti and his team of gunmen, including a Minnesota resident, used an encrypted messaging service to orchestrate an assassination plot against two individuals,” Andrew Luger, the US Attorney for Minnesota, said in a statement. “Thanks to the skillful work of federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents, the murder-for-hire plot was foiled and the defendants will face justice.”
Zindashti, who officials believe is in Iran, and Ryan and Pearson are charged with conspiring to use interstate commerce facilities to commit murder-for-hire.
Pearson, who was living illegally in Minnesota at the time of the alleged plot, is also charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a fugitive from justice and one count of possession of a firearm by an alien illegally in the United States.
RCMP identified Pearson and Ryan as members of the Hells Angels, which has Canadian chapters that the Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies consider an organized crime organization.
Both are imprisoned in Canada on “unrelated charges,” the Justice Department said.
The feds said the men used a service called SkyECC to communicate.
Sometime around Jan. 30, 2021, Zindashti messaged Ryan seeking an update on the alleged murder-for-hire plot, the indictment says. Ryan allegedly responded that he was “arranging things” and would need money.
Officials say that several days later, Zindashti told Ryan that his organization was ready to move forward and that they had agreed to pay $350,000 for “the job,” plus another $20,000 to cover expenses.
At that point, U.S. officials allege, Zindashti introduced Rayan to co-conspirator No. 1, whom the indictment identifies only as an “Iranian resident.”
“We have a 4-man team ready,” Ryan responded, according to the document.
in separate News launchThe Treasury Department identified the Iranian who allegedly worked with Ryan as a Zandashti associate named Nihad Abdul Qader Asan, “who played a pivotal role in the logistical planning of numerous of the network’s operations, including the network’s plot to assassinate individuals in the United States.” States.”
Over the next few days, Co-Conspirator 1 provided Ryan with information and photos of the targets, a man and a woman, and discussed the price of a double hit, according to the indictment.
“When Ryan told co-conspirator 1 that two goals would cost more than one goal, co-conspirator 1 assured Ryan that was not a problem,” the indictment says.
In March of that year, Ryan received a down payment of $20,000 “for the purpose of covering travel expenses associated with the plot to murder the victims.”
the Treasury Department It took “actions against the Zindashti criminal network targeting Iranian dissidents and opposition activists with kidnapping and assassination under the direction of the Iranian regime.”
“Zindashti and several of his key associates are prohibited from engaging in any transaction or dealing involving a US person or occurring in the United States,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Iran has a history of assassinations and kidnappings around the world, and has sometimes recruited local criminals to carry out killings, according to the US and European governments.
In 2018, an Iranian man who had lived a quiet life as an electrician for years in the Netherlands was shot dead in broad daylight in Almere, east of Amsterdam.
The victim turned out to be Mohammad Reza Kalahi Samadi, 56, who was sentenced to death in Iran after being accused of planting a bomb at the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party in 1981, killing 73 people – including several prominent political figures.
The Dutch government claimed that the Iranian regime was behind the deadly shooting.
Iran denied any role in the killing and denied being behind other suspected assassinations.
Last year, federal prosecutors charged three members of an Eastern European criminal organization with ties to the Iranian government of conspiring to assassinate Masih Alinejad.
Alinejad is a journalist and opposition figure with a large online following and has long been a thorn in the side of the regime.