Two former United Nations employees in Montreal have been charged with participating in a conspiracy to sell Chinese-made drones and other military equipment in Libya, Canadian police said Tuesday.

The alleged offenses occurred between 2018 and 2021, during the tenure of the accused at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), headquartered in Montreal.

The two individuals identified as Fathi Ben Ahmed Mhaouek, 61, and Mahmud Mohamed Elsuwaye Sayeh, 37, are accused of violating U.N. sanctions related to the Libyan civil war. These sanctions are legally binding in Canada.

According to RCMP spokesman Sgt. Charles Poirier, the accused attempted to sell military equipment, including large drones capable of carrying multiple missiles, to Libya through shell companies.

This violated regulations prohibiting the supply of military equipment to factions involved in the Libyan civil war or assisting in financing those groups.

The scheme also involved exporting Libyan oil to China without authorization, with plans to sell millions of barrels of crude oil to China clandestinely.

General Khalifa Hifter's Libyan National Army, which controlled much of the country's east during the conflict, was poised to benefit from this arrangement.

Mhaouek, a Canadian citizen, was arrested in the Montreal suburb of Ste-Catherine, while Sayeh remains at large. Interpol has issued a red notice and a Canada-wide warrant for Sayeh's arrest.

While there is no evidence that the military equipment or crude oil reached their intended destinations, the accused stood to gain millions of dollars in commissions if successful.

"The primary motivation behind the conspiracy is financial gain," stated Sgt. Poirier, emphasizing that the scheme would have financially benefited China while covertly supporting General Khalifa Hifter's faction and granting China access to Libyan oil.

The investigation, initiated in 2022 based on credible intelligence, uncovered the illicit activities of the accused. Both individuals, enjoying diplomatic immunity due to their U.N. employment, required a waiver from ICAO for charges to be filed.

ICAO, in collaboration with law enforcement, has cooperated in the investigation. Sgt. Poirier confirmed that there is no evidence suggesting ICAO's prior knowledge of the conspiracy.

Regarding Mahmud Mohamed Elsuwaye Sayeh, a Libyan national and co-conspirator, his whereabouts remain unknown. Sgt. Poirier highlighted Sayeh's potential mobility, facilitated by his extensive networking and influence within ICAO.