Joseph Manuel Hunter, center, is led by Thai police commandos to Police Aviation Division after being arrested, in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. Thai police said they arrested the American man wanted by the U.S. for allegedly running a drug trafficking network that spanned Asia and the United States. Hunter was arrested Wednesday on the resort island of Phuket as part of a sting operation launched at the request of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Former U.S. soldier turned mercenary nicknamed ‘RAMBO’ who arranged the contract killing of a real estate agent in the Philippines sentenced to life in prison
Joseph Manual Hunter, 53, and two other former American soldiers were convicted in April 2018 for the 2012 ‘hit’, executed in the Philippines
The former U.S sniper instructor and two other ex-American soldiers Adam Samia and Carl David Stillwell, have now been jailed for contract killing of broker in the Philippines
Joseph Hunter was found to be behind killing of real estate agent Catherine Lee
The Kentucky native was working as a security chief for weapons and drug trafficker Paul Le Roux, reportedly, recruited Samia and Stillwell to travel to the Philippines for “ninja work”
The men executed the ‘hit’ on a real estate agent in the Philippines for an international crime boss who thought Katherine Lee had cheated him on a land deal
Samia, 44, and Stillwell, 51, pretended to be potential clients of the broker
Samia shot the broker twice in the face with a .22-caliber gun while she sat in the back seat of a van to settle – then dumped the body on a pile of garbage on the side of a road
Hunter, was busted in his operational base in Phuket, Thailand in Sept, 2013
Hunter already serving 20 years in jail for plotting to kill a DEA agent in Liberia
Adam Samia and Carl David Stillwell both of Roxboro, North Carolina, were also found guilty of murder-for-hire
All three men faced life in prison
A former U.S. soldier who became a mercenary for drug dealers was sentenced to life in prison for arranging a contract killing.
Joseph Hunter, a decorated U.S. Army sniper instructor with Special Forces training, was convicted over the killing of a real estate broker in the Philippines who was shot in the face in cold blood.
53-year-old Hunter, aka Phuket ‘Rambo,’ became a contract killer for drug cartels after 20 years of service and rising to Sergeant in the military, whose his evil empire stretched across continents from Thailand to the US and Africa.
Victim: Catherine Lee was killed on a contract bought by an international crime boss who thought Katherine Lee had cheated him on a land deal
Carl David Stillwell [left] and Adam Samia [right] have already pled guilt to the contract killing. Samia was the trigger man
During the viewing Samia then shot Lee twice in the face with a pistol that had a silencer before he and Stillwell dumped her body on a pile of garbage, prosecutors said.
Samia and Stillwell, convicted at trial along with Hunter, were already sentenced to life in prison.
Hunter was also already serving a 20-year sentence for conspiracy to kill a DEA agent, in a case that was described as ‘ripped from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel’.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in 2013 upon his arrest: ‘The sentencing of Joseph Hunter…ends another chapter in a chilling criminal case that spanned the globe.’
Catherine Lee’s body was dumped by a garbage heap on the side of a road in east Manila by the hired killers, where it ws found by a garbage collector on the morning of Feb 13, 2012
Hunter was extradited back to the United States in 2013 to face conspiracy charges. He pled guilty in 2016 after being caught in a sting operation mounted with the help of his former boss, Paul Le Roux, an international criminal kingpin who turned government snitch after being arrested in 2012.
Hunter potted to kill the DEA agent and informant and a cooperating witness in Liberia in 2013, as well as recruiting others for assassination assignments.
Hunter was to be paid $100,000 while two snipers he recruited were to be paid $700,000, prosecutors said.
Hunter was arrested occurred in Phuket, Thailand, but authorities said he and his gang ranged all over southeast Asia trafficking drugs.
But it was the killing of Lee in the Philippines that resulted in a conviction at trial and sentencing last Thursday.
Prosecutors said after leaving the military, Hunter tortured, kidnapped and killed people for years along with other former soldiers.
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams in Manhattan said he carried out his crimes, including arranging the February 2012 murder of a real estate agent in the Philippines, for money.
The judge said she had never before seen such a ‘total and complete lack of respect for human life’.
Judge Abrams said Hunter had ‘planned and committed truly horrific crimes’ and then spoke of kidnapping, torture and assassination to recruits as if ‘it was a business, plain and simple’.
Joseph Manuel Hunter, [sitting on the ground], after he was arrested Sept 26, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand
The judge, who recalled re-watching videos introduced at trial of Hunter instructing recruits as she prepared for the sentencing, added: ‘I was struck by how matter-of-fact it was.’
She said the only emotion she detected was pride as Hunter said the work would be like performing in a ‘James Bond’ movie.
‘This wasn’t a movie. Real lives were taken,’ Abrams added.
The life prison sentence announced by Abrams was mandatory. Hunter, listed with the alias ‘Rambo’ in an indictment, was serving a 20-year prison term after another conviction.
A defense lawyer, Arnold Jay Levine, had cited post-traumatic stress disorder as a mitigating factor, saying years in the military had taken a toll on Hunter.
‘The country still owes something to Mr. Hunter’, he said.
Hunter, from Owensboro, Kentucky, who served in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 2004, declined to speak before the sentence was announced.
In the Army Hunter led air-assault and airborne infantry squads, served as a sniper instructor and trained soldiers in marksmanship.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: ‘With zero regard for human life, Joseph Hunter callously helped to arrange the murder of a Filipino woman in exchange for money.
‘He and his co-defendants have now been sentenced to life behind bars for their heartless crimes.’
In a recording during his 2016 trial, the former sniper instructor told his crew about past exploits and boasting about past exploits, including ‘bonus work’ or assassinations.
He bragged about smuggling gold and weapons from Jakarta to the Philippines on ships.