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Four men accused of trying to sell weapons of Saddam's family

(Reuters) - Four men were arrested on Thursday and accused of conspiring to sell stolen firearms believed to have belonged to the family of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, officials said.

The pistols, shotguns and revolvers are estimated to be worth $250,000 to $350,000, according to a statement issued by the office of U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in Newark, New Jersey.

The four men are accused of trying to find a buyer in New Jersey for the weapons, which were believed stored in Florida, the prosecutor said.

Law enforcement officials received a tip in April that the firearms were up for sale, according to a criminal complaint filed against the four men.

Authorities used undercover agents who posed as interested buyers in New Jersey to break up the alleged scheme, the prosecutor's statement said.

In October, Iraq's Ambassador to the United States, Jabir Habeb, confirmed that the weapons belonged to the Republic of Iraq, according to the complaint, which did not include any details of where the guns had come from or how they came to be stolen.

Officials said the weapons included a Coonan Arms .357 semi-automatic nickel-finish pistol with gold inlay and a medallion "QS" on the side of the grip believed to be the initials of Qusay Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, one of Hussein's sons.

The other weapons were two Korth .357 magnum revolvers, a Chinese State Factories type semi-automatic pistol with a Yemen flag icon on each side and Arabic writing on the slide, two Cosmi 12-gauge shotguns and a Llama semi-automatic .45 ACP pistol with gold leaf and gold inlays, also bearing the initials "Q.S.," they said.

The accused men were identified as David Ryan, 48, of Miami; Karlo Sauer, 42, of Pittsburgh; Howard Blumenthal, 74, of Fort Lee, New Jersey; and Carola Quirola, also known as Carlos Quirola-Ordonez, 55, of New Milford, New Jersey.

They were charged with conspiracy to transport stolen firearms and conspiracy to sell and receive stolen property.

Ryan also was charged with unlawful mailing of firearms.

If convicted of conspiracy, they could each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The unlawful mailing count carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Blumenthal and Quirola appeared on Thursday before a U.S. Magistrate in Newark, Ryan appeared in federal court in the Southern District of Florida and Sauer appeared in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the prosecutor's statement said.

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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