Entries in Smuggling (3)


Feds: China and Iran Smuggling Ring Busted

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Four men, including two Iranians, were indicted Tuesday in federal court in New York for allegedly attempting to smuggle military helicopter parts and carbon fiber that can be used in nuclear centrifuges from the U.S. into China and Iran.

"The law prohibits the exportation of goods to Iran and certain goods to China," said FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos in written comments. "Whether motivated by greed or otherwise, these defendants allegedly violated the law, including by arranging for the export of carbon fiber that can be used in uranium enrichment. The FBI takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure that strategically important goods and technology do not end up in the wrong hands."

"The embargo and export laws that all four of these defendants are alleged to have violated are critical to protecting the national security of the United States and its citizens," said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "Carbon fiber in the wrong hands poses a serious threat to that security, and two of these defendants are charged with arranging its export to Iran, where it most assuredly had the potential to end up in the wrong hands. "

Three of the defendants in the alleged smuggling ring have been arrested, while a fourth remains at large. The men -- two Iranians, one Turk, and an Orange County, New York-based U.S citizen -- are all charged with conspiracy to export controlled items.

The carbon fiber material has a number of industrial uses, including aerospace engineering and the gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

One defendant, Hamid Reza Hasemi, a dual U.S and Iranian citizen who lived in Iran, allegedly attempted to purchase the material for his Tehran-based company. Beginning in 2007, he was allegedly assisted in his efforts by Murat Taskiran, a Turkish citizen and the managing director of a company in Turkey.

Taskiran, who remains at large, allegedly solicited the material from an Orange County broker, Peter Gromacki, and together with Gromacki and Hasemi attempted to circumvent U.S. laws against the export of carbon fiber, a controlled item, according to the federal indictments unsealed Wednesday.

Gromacki, according to his indictment, made "materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations."

The government charged that Gromacki lied on a shipper's export declaration for the People's Republic of China (PRC). He is charged with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). In their indictment, Hasemi and Taskiran also are charged with conspiracy to violate the IEEPA.

The fourth defendant, Amir Abbas Tamimi, an Iranian citizen, is charged with conspiracy to violate the IEEPA and supply Iran with military helicopter components.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


$2M Diamond Dinner Lands Smuggler in Jail

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(JOHANNESBURG) -- A tip prompted South African police to run a scan on a Lebanese traveler flying out of the country, where they found 220 polished diamonds in his stomach.

The 25-year-old traveler, who was not immediately identified, was arrested and administered a laxative to retrieve the gems, which were valued at $2.3 million. He was arrested Tuesday night at the O.R. Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg.

“He was intercepted just as he was about to go through the security checkpoint.  Then took him for a scan where we discovered where he was hiding the diamonds,” said Capt. Paul Ramaloka of the South African Police Service. Police recovered the diamonds after giving the smuggling suspect laxatives.

Ramaloka said investigators began following the man after receiving inside information about a possible diamond smuggling ring.  They say he is a Lebanese national who was planning to fly to Dubai.

In South Africa, one of the world’s top producers of diamonds, investigators are always watching closely for diamond smugglers.  Ramaloka believes their efforts have deterred much of the crime.

“The trend of people smuggling by ingesting substances used to be quite common but has now fallen off due to increased security,” Ramaloka said.

He said the last such incident was in January of this year when another Lebanese national was arrested at the airport with more than $1 million worth of diamonds in his stomach.  Police are investigating if the cases are related.  They are still working to find the source of the diamonds recovered this week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five Charged in Iranian Smuggling Network Linked to Iraq IEDs

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department has charged five people, including an Iranian man, and four companies with illegally exporting specialized transmitters from a U.S. company to Iran that later were found in unexploded improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

The indictment charges Hossein Larijani, an Iranian citizen, with illegally exporting the radio frequency transmitters through companies and individuals in Singapore who then forward the items to Iran.

Police in Singapore arrested four others who have been indicted in the case -- identified as Wong Yuh Lan, Lim Yong Nam, Lim Kow Seng and Hia Soo Gan Benson -- for their alleged role in conspiring with Larijani to obtain the transmitters from the Minnesota wireless company Digi.

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy, smuggling, false statements, obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting and violations of the Arms Export Control Act and Iranian Transaction regulations.

According to the indictment unsealed Tuesday, between August 2007 and February 2008 the transmitters were sent to Singapore and then sent to Iran by Larijani’s company, Opto Electronics Ltd. The indictment alleges that U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq recovered unexploded IEDs in Iraq in May 2008, December 2008, April 2009 and July 2010.

“These defendants misled U.S. companies in buying parts that they shipped to Iran and that ended up in IEDs on the battlefield in Iraq,” Ronald Machen, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a statement.

The indictment filed at U.S. District Court in Washington alleges that Ling Yong Nam’s company, NEL Electronics, and Lim Kow Seng and Hia Soo Gan Benson, from a firm called Corezing International, made false statements to Digi about obtaining 6,000 of the transmitters claiming they would be used for a “telecom project” in Singapore.

According to Digi’s website, the transmitters can carry signals as far as 40 miles away with specialized antennas. Calls to Digi asking about the case were not returned.

Iranian influence in Iraq has been a concern for several years now, especially when U.S. officials noticed that Iran was providing insurgents in Iraq with explosively formed projectile devices.

In an interview with Bloomberg in June 2011 before he retired, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Iran is “facilitating weapons, they’re facilitating training, there’s new technology that they’re providing....They’re stepping this up, and it’s a concern.”

The Justice Department also alleges that Seng and Benson, through Corezing, illegally exported from the United States antennas used on U.S. military aircraft from a firm in Massachusetts. In total about 55 of the antennas were exported to Singapore and Hong Kong after they allegedly made false statements and avoided filing shipping declarations.

The United States is seeking the extradition of the four defendants from Singapore. Larijani is believed to currently be in Iran.

“This case underscores the continuing threat posed by Iranian procurement networks seeking to obtain U.S. technology through fraud and the importance of safeguarding that technology,” Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division Lisa Monaco said in a statement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio