A federal jury in Beaumont, Texas, convicted a Romanian national today for plotting to traffic hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from the United States in a scheme that also included money laundering, arms trafficking, and an attempt to assassinate rival gang members.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Marius Lazar, 50, of Bucharest, Romania, was a “founding member” of his local chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, a transnational outlaw motorcycle gang that was founded in the United States and is now active on six continents.
Through his relationship with a fellow Hells Angels member from New Zealand, Lazar joined a conspiracy to purchase more than 400 kilograms of cocaine from a person in the United States, who the conspirators believed was a powerful drug trafficker but who was actually an undercover agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
As part of his negotiations for the cocaine purchase, Lazar also solicited the undercover agent to kill two members of a rival motorcycle club in Romania, and offered to supply the undercover with rifles, grenades, armored vehicles, and other military-grade equipment that Lazar understood would be used against police officers in the United States.
Members of the conspiracy sent nearly $1 million to the United States, via bank wires and Bitcoin transfers, as payment for the drugs and murders.
The jury convicted Lazar of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
He faces a maximum penalty of life years in prison.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.
Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Co-defendants Murray Michael Matthews and Marc Patrick Johnson remain fugitives.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M.
Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.
Attorney Damien Diggs for the Eastern District of Texas, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, Special Agent in Charge Mark B.
Dawson of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, U.
Marshal John Garrison of the U.
Marshals Service (USMS), and Special Agent in Charge Christopher J.
of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Dallas Field Office made the announcement.
The DEA, HSI, USMS, and IRS-CI investigated the case, with significant assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Trial Attorney Conor Mulroe of the Criminal Division’s Violent Crime and Racketeering Section and Assistant U.
Attorney Christopher Rapp for the Eastern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with law enforcement partners in Romania to secure the arrest and extradition of Lazar.
This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation.
OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.