A team of alleged mercenaries composed of former American, German, and Polish snipers and soldiers was arrested this week after DEA informants successfully hired the team to provide a variety of security, surveillance, and assassination work.
According to a release from the DEA, the five former soldiers — most with sniper experience — formed an “international hit team” across four continents.
The DEA sent in confidential sources who hired the team — comprised of former U.S. military sniper and drill sergeant Joseph Manuel Hunter, former U.S. sergeant Timothy Vamvakias, former German snipers Dennis Gogel and Michael Filter, and and Polish former sniper Slawomir Soborski — to provide services for purported Colombian drug traffickers.
According to the DEA, the men provided a variety of surveillance and security work in places like Thailand, Mauritius, and the Bahamas, where they thought they were clearing a U.S.-bound plane with 300 kilos of cocaine onboard.
The team also accepted $700,000 to assassinate a DEA special agent and an alleged confidential source in Liberia. Hunter, referred to as “Rambo” in the indictment, was to receive an additional $100,000 for his “leadership” role.
VAMVAKIAS and GOGEL discussed the weapons that could be used and masks to be worn for the murders, and VAMVAKIAS stated that it would be better to “hit the agent first” and then “the snitch.” In early July 2013, HUNTER sent via e-mail a list of the items needed for the murders, including “[t]wo Submachine Guns with silencers . . .[t]wo .22 pistols with Silencers.”
The DEA alleges that since he left the army in 2004, Hunter has been a killer-for-hire, successfully arranging for the murder of a “number of people.” The indictment refers to audio and videotape of Hunter admitting that he had arranged for the murder of three different real estate agents. Hunter also allegedly told his team that “most of the bonus work is up close… because in cities… you don’t get long-range shots.”
According to the DEA, Hunter referred to contract killings as “bonus jobs” and told the confidential sources that some team members were looking for as much “bonus work” as possible. At one point, Hunter emailed the informants saying, “Everyone is ready to go, just waiting further instructions. They also, really want a bonus job after this next mission, if available.”
According to the indictment, Gogel told informants, “[Bonus work] is fun, actually for me that’s fun, I love this work.”
Before their arrests, the men had planned to enter Liberia without having their passports stamped, don “highly sophisticated latex facemasks, which can make the wearer appear to be of another race,” murder the DEA agent and the snitch with a submachine gun and two .22 caliber pistols, and take a private plane out of the country.