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An arsenal of small arms and military weapons that roiled Honduran politics for years, and once played a role in the Iran-Contra investigation, is the focus of a federal lawsuit brought by a Miami arms dealer who claims the weapons have been illegally expropriated by the Honduran government. Samco Global Arms Inc., operated by Pakistani native Ghulam J. Dossul, claims it purchased all rights to the Honduran cache from a Panamanian company called Longlac Enterprises, but has been blocked from taking possession by Honduran civilian officials. Samco, represented by former Miami federal judge and U.S. Attorney Thomas Scott, says the Honduran Ministry of Defense has allowed the privately owned arsenal stored on an army base to become damaged and unusable. Samco’s complaint asks U.S. District Judge Shelby Highsmith of Miami to order the Central American nation to pay unspecified damages. Newspaper articles about the arsenal — said to include everything from anti-aircraft missiles to assault rifles and grenades — have placed its value at between $4 million and $8 million. Acting Honduran ambassador to the U.S. Benjamin Zapata said he was unfamiliar with the lawsuit and did not have any comment on it before deadline. Scott did not return phone calls seeking comment. Dossul, 47, declined comment because the case is in litigation. Dossul runs Samco out of a headquarters near Miami International Airport at 6995 NW 43rd St. On its Web site, samcoglobal.com, the company is described as “headquarters for quality firearms for collectors and shooters.” Offerings for sale include rifles, ammunition, bayonets and an apparently limited supply of World War II gas masks. “Do not wait too long!! Order while we still have them,” the Web site copy says. The Dossul family has a tradition of trading in the international arms bazaar. Dossul confirmed in a brief interview that his father, Ghulam Mohammad Dossul, has owned and operated Dossul Engineering, a company in Karachi, Pakistan. The firm manufactures small arms and sells handguns and rifles. The arsenal in Honduras now owned by Samco was guarded for years by the army without controversy. That changed in 1998 when military officials publicly acknowledged it watched over the privately owned cache to keep it from falling into the hands of criminals. That same year, a local district attorney looking into arms trafficking took the matter to court “thereby obstructing the commercial export of the inventory to other customers,” says Samco’s complaint. As a result of the district attorney’s action, the Honduran courts seized the arms depot about a year later. Some of the weapons inventoried by Longlac Enterprises, a company with an office on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, were discovered to be missing, according to a report by the Program on Security and Development, which is associated with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. The current dispute between Samco and Honduras dates to 1985 when Longlac contracted with the Honduran army to import and store weapons, munitions and explosives to be sold to the Honduran armed forces. The contract, however, included a clause allowing Longlac — which is not a party to the current suit brought by Samco — to sell and export to others weapons not purchased by Honduras. One buyer was Samco, which made an unspecified number of purchases from 1986 to 1994, according to the complaint. The details of those purchases were not disclosed. Not mentioned in the complaint were the arsenal’s primary customers: the Nicaraguan Contra rebels. In the mid-1980s, most of the Contra forces were in Honduras. After Congress prohibited military aid to the Contras, members of the Reagan administration, including then-Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, undertook a covert effort to aid the rebels. According to Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh’s Iran-Contra 1993 report, a Cuban-American named Mario Dellamico, a Longlac representative friendly with Honduras military officers, helped develop a plan “to ship a storehouse of weapons” to Honduras where the Contras could buy them on “a cash-and-carry basis.” Dellamico is identified in a 1998 Associated Press story and in other newspaper accounts as being linked by law enforcement authorities to Luis Posada Carriles. He is the Cuban-American who allegedly participated in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airlines jet flight that killed 73. The AP story also quotes Alfredo Landaverde, identified as a Honduran Christian Democrat who in 1995 was named to oversee the transfer of police from military to civilian control, as alleging that Dellamico “participated” in a 1997 grenade attack on the home of then-Honduran President Carlos Roberto Reina. The president was not injured. The arsenal, described in the Iran-Contra report as an “arms supermarket,” was purchased and shipped to Honduras by Dellamico’s associate at Longlac, Miami-based arms dealer Ronald J. Martin. Notwithstanding that controversial history, Samco purchased “all rights and claims” to the Longlac stash on May 15, 2000. The breach of contract complaint does not specify the contract price. According to the complaint, the 4th Criminal Court and the Honduran Supreme Court have ordered the defense ministry to turn over the remaining material in the arsenal to Samco but the government has refused to comply. Scott, Samco’s attorney, is now using that refusal to argue to Highsmith that the case falls within the jurisdiction of U.S. federal courts. “The fact that the government of Honduras has not complied with an order of its own Supreme Court is proof that the order has no teeth in Honduras, and accordingly, is indicative that Honduras is not a suitable alternative forum for the resolution of this cause of action,” says the complaint. The Honduran government has yet to answer Samco’s complaint.

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