The first few planeloads were dispatched without incident, but then Diveroli called Trebicka with bad news: He was getting high-level pressure to take Xhoi off the job. The request was coming from Ylli Pinari, the head of the Albanian Defense Ministry's arms-export company, who wanted his own man, Milhal Delijorgji, to take over. Delijorgji was known to hang out with the prime minister's son.
Trebicka fumed at being ousted in what he considered a brazen act of corruption. In a June 11, 2007, phone conversation taped by Trebicka, Diveroli conceded that he believed Pinari was linked to organized crime, and suggested the chain of malfeasance might lead all the way up to the prime minister's son. "I can't fight this mafia," Diveroli said. "This mafia is too strong for me. The animals go too out of control." He suggested Trebicka appeal to Pinari (who denies any mob ties): "Send one of your girls to fuck him. . . . Give him something in his pocket. . . . If he gets $20,000 from you, I can live with this."
Instead, Trebicka reached out to his friend Gary Kokalari, an Albanian-American anti-corruption activist. In early August 2007, Trebicka played the tape for Kokalari, who thought that Diveroli's reference to $20,000 could be construed as a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. companies from paying bribes abroad. Kokalari contacted the departments of Justice and Defense, as well as the New York Times, which happened to be investigating arms dealing in Eastern Europe.
In the meantime, Delijorgji took over Trebicka's operation, handling at least 30 more shipments, until the pace slowed in February 2008 when Army complaints about the shoddy packagingthe cardboard boxes were splitting openand the low quality of the bullets led the DOD to insist on better shipping methods.
Perhaps Diveroli knew the scrutiny he was under, or maybe his luck had just run out. But at 5 a.m. on March 5, 2008, he was pulled over in his new $100,000 Mercedes S550 and arrested for drunk driving. A few days later, an explosion at an ammunition warehouse overseen by Delijorgji and Pinari killed 26 people and helped focus global attention on Albania's surplus-arms industry. Two weeks after that, the New York Times published an exhaustive report on AEY and its young president. The investigation not only exposed the Chinese origins of Diveroli's Albanian bullets but alleged that many of the cartridges were more than 40 years old, some so degraded they were unusable. The repercussions were swift and devastating. Government agents raided AEY's unmarked offices. An embarrassed Army quickly canceled its contract. And on June 19, a federal grand jury in Miami indicted Diveroli, Packouz, Podrizki, and financier Ralph Merrill on one count of conspiracy and 35 counts of committing a major fraud against the United States. In addition, Diveroli was charged with 35 counts of making false statements to a federal agency. All told, he faces 510 years in prison.