UPDATE: ‘Several’ Witnesses Allegedly Targeted By Ramadan From Jail
OCEAN CITY — More details have emerged in the indictment released on Thursday charging an Ocean City man in a murder-for-hire plot launched from a jail cell in New York, including information the alleged murder plan targeted “several” witnesses.
In mid-May, federal officials concluded an investigation into a multi-million dollar cigarette smuggling operation with raids on two locations in and around the resort area including the West Ocean City homes of local residents and business owners Basel Ramadan, 42, who has been called the “ringleader” of the operation, and Samer Ramadan, 40, who is being called the operation’s “enterprise treasurer.” Also indicted were 14 other alleged co-conspirators, from transporters to distributors to resellers, who were rounded up at locations all over the mid-Atlantic region on the same day in May.
On Thursday, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced the indictment of Basel Ramadan and Yousseff Odeh, one of his alleged distributors and a trusted lieutenant, on new charges they conspired from behind bars to murder witnesses they believed were cooperating with law enforcement in the massive cigarette smuggling case against them.
The latest indictment unsealed and released by the New York Attorney General’s Office late Thursday reveals the alleged murder-for-hire conspiracy carried out by Basel Ramadan and Odeh began shortly after their arraignment and subsequent incarceration at Rikers Island in New York. The indictment alleges Ramadan and Odeh conspired with one or more persons and with each other to engage in the felony of murder in the second degree from May 24 to last Friday, October 11.
“During the course of the above-stated conspiracy, it was the stated goal of defendant Ramadan and defendant Odeh to kill several individuals whom the defendants believed to be witnesses against them in the prosecution of the Kings County indictment,” the indictment released on Thursday reads. “In order to carry out the above stated goal of conspiracy, both defendants discussed and agreed with individuals that the individuals would carry out the goal of the conspiracy by intentionally causing, or recruiting, other individuals to cause the death of persons the defendants believed to be witnesses against them on behalf of the prosecution.”
The unsealed indictment provides details about the alleged murder-for-hire plot. For example, on or about Aug. 24, Ramadan provided an individual with information pertaining to the targets of the murder conspiracy, including the name and home address for one of the murder targets as well as a description and place of business for another murder target. On the same day, Odeh provided descriptive information pertaining to the targets of the murder conspiracy.
On Sept. 17, Ramadan spoke via telephone from jail with an undercover NYPD officer who was posing as a prospective killer for hire. “During the call, Ramadan stated in sum and substance that he has ‘one of those problems’ and when the undercover officer stated that ‘he could take care of it, Ramadan stated that he appreciated it,” the indictment reads. “Ramadan further stated in sum and substance to the undercover officer that the individual ‘may need some help’.”