Eva Knott 7:43 p.m., April 15
- Community Blog
Rosarito's Connection to the Iran-Contra Affair
In March 2006, a jury convened by the US District Court in San Diego found Arif Durrani guilty "for multiple violations of the Arms Export Control Act," and in June 2006, a federal judge sentenced Durrani to serve twelve and a half years in federal custody.
Arif Durrani is a Pakstani with a connection to Rosarito.
In 1987, Durrani was convicted in federal court in Connecticut of trafficking guidance systems for anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. He is the only person to ever have been convicted in the Iran-Contra scandal. Durrani was sentenced to five years in prison, fined $2,000,000, and ordered deported from the US. Durrani fought the deportation order in court for years before dropping his fight and left the US voluntarily in 1998. But he did not go back to Pakistan. He went to Rosarito.
In Rosarito, Durrani operated a furniture factory and a restaurant, which he named after his wife. He also had an aerospace company, and went back into the business of shipping banned aircraft equipment to Iran. To do this, Durrani recruited two Americans in Southern California to help him. They were Richard Tobey, who ran Airpower Supply in Temecula, and George Charles Budenz, a retired Navy commander. Budenz admitted Durrani told him about his previous arms trafficking conviction but he still agreed to help the Pakistani smuggler locate and purchase national security-restricted aircraft parts in the US and, then illegally ship them overseas. Both Tobey and Budenz plead guilty and served time in jail for their participation.
How Durrani was captured in Rosarito is interesting. The Americans, aware of Durrani's activities, notified Mexico. Mexican immigration arrested Durrani as he left his Rosarito restaurant. He was flown to Mexico City, and then ordered deported. Instead of being flown directly from Mexico City to Europe, and then on to Pakistan, he was booked on a flight with a stopover in Los Angeles. Upon landing in Los Angeles, he was arrested.
His restaurant in Rosarito is still in business. It is called "Susanna's" and is operated by Durrani's wife, Susanne Stehr. The restaurant built with illegal arms-trade money. In Mexico, nothing is as it seems.
More like this:
- Mauro Talini's last bike ride — May 17, 2013
- Rosarito's problem with people deported from the United States — Sept. 22, 2012
- Mexico's federal attorney general investigates its own air fleet for drug trafficking — Sept. 8, 2012
- Mythbusters: Are there 14,000 expatriates living in Rosarito? — Jan. 23, 2012
- The Beaches of Baja — June 9, 2011