Heights man charged with smuggling weapons

By J. PATRICK PEPPER
Times-Herald Newspapers

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Federal prosecutors last week charged a Dearborn Heights man with attempting to smuggle guns and ammunition abroad and with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

The indictment alleges that Hassan Jamile Salame, 42, was attempting to smuggle the weapons from the Unites States to Lebanon, and that because he has a prior felony conviction, he was prohibited from possessing guns.

Salame was arrested in mid-June when Hampton County, S.C., deputies found a cache of weapons inside a boat he was towing along I-95, published reports said. He had been stopped for a traffic violation, but when a deputy smelled what was suspected to be marijuana, he called in a drug-sniffing dog to search both vehicles. A total of 14 weapons – including handguns, shotguns, rifles, scopes, and assault weapons – and several boxes of ammo were seized.

U.S. Attorney William N. Nettles said the maximum penalty Salame could face is a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison. Nettles added that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Department of Homeland Security are conducting the ongoing investigation.

Michigan Court of Appeals records indicate that in 2008, Salame appealed convictions for assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and conspiracy to commit assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. The jury in the original case found him guilty of paying two men to beat up another man with whom he had a disagreement. He was sentenced to three years probation.

Listed as one of Salame’s causes for appeal was that the trial court improperly permitted testimony alleging he had ordered the beating because he feared the targeted man was going to make allegations that Salame was wiring money to the Lebanese political and paramilitary organization Hezbollah – a terrorist organization, according to the U.S. government. The appeals court disagreed that the admission unduly influenced the jury.

“While evidence of … alleged connection to Hezbollah may be prejudicial because of this country’s climate after the events of 9/11, the record does not establish that it was given pre-emptive or undue weight,” the court wrote. “It was offered to show defendant’s motive for the assault against (the victim), not to prove that defendant was actually the subject of a raid or a member of Hezbollah.”