U.S. Mulls Unusual Tactic As Blackwater Charges Loom

Guards for North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide who were involved in a deadly Baghdad shooting of Iraq civilians last year could face mandatory 30-year prison sentences.

People close to the case say the Justice Department could prosecute the guards under an anti-drug law, even though drugs were
not involved.

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 law calls for 30-year prison terms for using machine guns to commit violent crimes of any kind, whether drug-related or not.

Blackwater's guards, hired to protect U.S. diplomats, were responding to a car bombing when a shooting erupted in a crowded intersection. Moyock-based Blackwater insists its convoy was ambushed by insurgents. Witnesses said the guards were unprovoked.

Charges could be announced as early as Monday.

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