Business is booming in the field of illegal, high tech weapons export, as shown by the Department of Justice's recently released Fact Sheet of Major US Export Enforcement Actions.
The roundup offers a "snapshot" of some of the more entertaining arrests and convictions of 2007. Military night vision goggles, aviation helmets, rocket launchers, guided missiles and microwave integrated circuits all made the list of off limit items. In many cases the export related crimes were further compounded by money laundering, drugs, theft and in the case of a Florida based mother and son team, conspiracy to murder.
Purveyors to Iran's ever aging fleet of F-4 and F-14 fighter jets tried to ship thousands of spare parts; everything from cable assemblies to maintenance kits. Other items included aerospace grade aluminum and a decidedly low tech planned shipment of 100,000 Uzis. Nabbed by the LAPD and the FBI, one Seyed Maghloubi will do time for the latter.
Industrial spying figured in as well. Lan Lee and Yuefei Ge were charged in the Northern District of California last month on charges of economic espionage and theft of trade secrets after allegedly conspiring to steal trade secrets from two companies and seeking funds to pull it off from China's National High Technology Research and Development Program, according to the FBI. Xiaodong Sheldon Meng is going up for illegally exporting military source code designed to train fighter pilots. Meng has the distinction of being the first defendant to be convicted of exporting military source code pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act, according to DOJ.
One company, SparesGlobal, is accused of exporting restricted graphite products that can be used in nuclear reactors and in the nose cones of ballistic missiles; final destination, Pakistan, according to the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security.
While the usual suspects like Iran and China figure prominently, others add a sprinkling of diversity to this trans-national trade. For instance Haniffa Bin Osman pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide surface-to-air missiles to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and Monzer Al Kassar was arrested and extradited from Romania for allegedly agreeing to sell the same thing to the FARC in Colombia. Get out your atlas, a Virginia company pleaded guilty to exporting ballistic helmets to Suriname.