TODAY   |  September 28, 2013

Army veteran charged with running a hit squad

In a plot that sounds like something from a Hollywood movie, a former U.S. Army sergeant has been charged with organizing a hit squad to kill an American drug agent in Africa. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>>> accused of hatching a plan to kill an american drug agent in africa. prosecutors accuse him of being a contract killer and say he enlisted other former soldiers to help. our justice correspondent pete williams has more.

>> reporter: federal prosecutors says joseph hunter has spent the past eight years out of the military arranging for murders. he was arrested friday in thailand accused of hiring a team to kill a dea agent in africa.

>> bone chilling allegations in today's indictment read like they were ripped from the pages of a tom clancy novel.

>> reporter: prosecutors says hunter, nicknamed rambo, hired four soldiers one from the united states and one from poland and two from germany. court documents say hunter met with two men he thought were from a columbia cocaine cartel but who were actually undercover informants for the dea. hunters launched a global operation sending members of his team to the bahamas and meeting with the team in thailand and plotting to kill a drug agent and another man they were told was an informant and sending two team members to liberia on wednesday to kill the agent. one of them was recorded saying, actually, for me, that's fun. i love this work. they were arrested when they landed. they called murders for hire bonus work and said they need a total of 800,000 dollars.

>> these professional killers develop plans to use automatic weapons and silencers and masks and detailed escape routes and cover stories to make their murders look like random violence on the streets.

>> reporter: hunter and the others all now under arrest and face charges that could bring life in prison . for "today," pete williams , nbc news, washington.