A 22-year-old munitions dealer and others in his Miami Beach company
were arrested on charges of selling prohibited Chinese weaponry to the
U.S. government to supply allied forces in Afghanistan, according to law
Efraim Diveroli, president of AEY Inc., and three other employees were
arrested Thursday night and Friday morning -- accused of conspiring to
misrepresent the types of munitions they sold to the U.S. Department of
Defense as part of a $300 million Army weapons contract, officials said.
Diveroli and the others are charged with violating the Arms Export
Control Act stemming from an investigation that began earlier this year by
the Pentagon and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Diveroli's attorney, Hy Shapiro, could not be immediately reached for
comment. The U.S. attorney's office and ICE in Miami declined to comment.
Diveroli and the other defendants are expected to have their first
appearances in federal court in Miami Friday afternoon.
Diveroli's grandfather, Angelo, who lives in North Miami-Dade County,
said he learned about his grandson's arrest Thursday night from family
"That's all I know," Angelo Diveroli, 72, said. "I think there's
somebody behind this. I think it's political."
Diveroli's government weapons license was suspended in late March, when
the New York Times initially broke the improbable story of the Miami Beach
munitions maverick. He had allegedly misled the Army by saying that most
of his machine-gun cartridges were Hungarian -- not Chinese. The munitions
were for Afghan forces fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents.
A copy of the suspension notice, obtained by The Miami Herald from the
Army, said that on Nov. 25, Diveroli provided military officials with
false or misleading''
Diveroli indicated that the rounds of ammunition for AK-47s and other
assault rifles were made in Hungary between 1965 and 1975, the notice
said, but the Army discovered that most of the munitions were, in fact,
manufactured in China between 1962 and 1974.
In the March 25 suspension notice, Army officials cited a
prohibition'' on sales of communist Chinese military munitions to the
In a related document, the Army summarized the history of Diveroli's
company, AEY, which was founded by his father in Miami Beach in 1999,
noting that it started out selling surplus goods, wholesale scrap and
Diveroli's father is not among the four AEY employees arrested on
Friday, according to law enforcement officials.
In an earlier interview, Diveroli's grandfather, Angelo, described him
as a "weapons genius'' who was being unfairly treated by the government
and other weapons contractors.
Diveroli's fortunes rose with U.S. military interventions in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
The company landed its first military contract in 2004, generating
revenue of more than $1 million. But Diveroli's business with the Defense
Department grew so dramatically that he snared contracts worth $200
million last year. The largest was to supply ammunition to the Afghan
National Police and the Afghan National Army, which were fighting al Qaeda
and Taliban insurgents.
All that government contract work transformed Diveroli's lifestyle.
While living in Miami Beach, AEY's youthful president has had several
run-ins with the law but no criminal convictions, Miami-Dade court records
Since 2005, Diveroli was accused of physically assaulting and harassing
a former girlfriend. He also was arrested on charges of beating up a valet
parker at his condo. Police said he was carrying a fake Florida driver's
license that indicated he was four years older.
His latest legal problem is still pending. On March 5, Diveroli was
again arrested by Miami Beach police -- this time on a drunk-driving
charge. He was released the same day on a $1,000 bond, said Janelle Hall,
a Miami-Dade Corrections spokeswoman.
Diveroli might be the only U.S.-approved munitions supplier with a
MySpace account. He kept his active until 2005. In his biography, he
describes himself as "a super nice guy."
And he confesses: "I had problems in high school so I was forced to
work most of my teen years and I probably grew up way too fast. I finally
got a decent apartment and I'm content for the moment, however, I
definitely have the desire to be very successful in my business and this
does take up a lot of my time."
Miami Herald staff writer Luisa Yanez contributed to this report.