HomePoliticsSeven charged in a Russian smuggling ring involving New Hampshire and New...

Seven charged in a Russian smuggling ring involving New Hampshire and New Jersey residents

Washington — A Russian man living in New Hampshire allegedly used his Merrimack home as a “transshipment point” to smuggle US-made military-grade equipment into Russia as part of a coordinated effort to evade US export laws , federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Alexey Brayman is one of seven defendants in a 16-count indictment accused of participating in an international scheme to transport American goods to Russia via countries including Estonia, Finland, Germany and Hong Kong, in violation of the law. federal.

Brayman’s co-defendants include a US citizen from New Jersey, a technical director for a Moscow-based machinery company that has contracts with Russian intelligence, and a Russian citizen who once lived in Brooklyn.

Vadim Konoshchenok, accused in Russian smuggling case.

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According to the indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of New York, from 2017 until at least spring 2022, Yevgeniy Grinin, Aleksey Ippolitov, Boris Livshits, Svetlana Skvortsova, Vadim Konoshchenok, Vadim Yermolenko, and Brayman, used fictitious companies, fake addresses, and labels. counterfeit shipping documents to transport the equipment to Russia.

The goods that have allegedly been smuggled include “advanced electronics and sophisticated test equipment” to be used in the development of nuclear weapons and other military and space-based military applications. Investigators say the items were repackaged and shipped from various “intermediate locations” once they reached Europe and Asia before finally being shipped to Russia.

Prosecutors say the defendants coordinated their efforts to violate US export control laws that restrict trade with Russia, specifically laws enacted in response to the Kremlin invasions of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the Treasury Department sanctioned two of the Russian companies at the center of the alleged scheme, Serniya and Sertal, and even took aim at Grinin himself, describing the entire network as “instrumental to the machine.” war of the Russian Federation”.

The pipeline described in the court documents allegedly began with companies from the Russian defense and technology industries ordering Ippolitov for the American equipment, and he would later deliver the orders to Grinn and Skvortsovato to secure the financing.

Livshits is accused of communicating directly with American companies, often using the alias “David Wetksy” to purchase desired military equipment. In one example, prosecutors claimed that Livshits used the alias in the spring of 2022, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, to contact an Illinois-based electronics distributor about purchasing a type of monitoring system. of electrical signal that is restricted by the Department of Commerce for anti-terrorism reasons.

The Russian national allegedly purchased the equipment, known as a dual-use oscilloscope, from the US company for $25,000 and shipped it to Brayman’s residence in New Hampshire. There, Brayman sent the package to Hamburg, Germany. Yermolenko, who lives in New Jersey, joined Brayman in the illegal export of US goods, according to charging documents.

Investigators say Livshits, who also set up and managed numerous shell companies in the US, did not tell the US companies how the equipment would be used or that the Russian companies were waiting to receive it.

According to the indictment unsealed this month, Brayman and Livshits allegedly discussed shipping goods to Russia via Germany “by hook or by crook.”

And as recently as October 22, Konoshchenok, a Russian citizen living in Estonia, was detained by police at the Estonian border with Russia, where law enforcement allegedly found 35 types of semiconductors, thousands of bullets of 6 .5mm originally made in Nebraska and ammunition. for sniper rifles.

6.5mm bullets made in Nebraska and found in the possession of Russian defendant Vadim Konoshchenok

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Konoshchenok, an alleged Russian intelligence officer, is accused of smuggling numerous US-made items from Estonia into Russia, including dual-use electronics, military-grade tactical munitions and other export-controlled items, the Justice Department said.

“With three of the defendants now in custody, we have disrupted the procurement network allegedly used by the defendants and Russian intelligence services to smuggle sniper rifle ammunition and sensitive electronic components into Russia,” the attorney general said. Merrick Garland in a statement. “The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce our economic sanctions and export controls against those who allow the Russian government to continue its unjust war in Ukraine.

The investigation into the smuggling scheme was coordinated by the department’s Kleptocapture Task Force, an interagency response to the Russian invasion of Urkaine earlier this year led by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

According to the Justice Department, Brayman turned himself in to the FBI and was released Tuesday after posting $150,000 bail. Yermolenko was arrested in New Jersey and also released on bail. Yermolenko pleaded not guilty.

Konoshchenok was detained by Estonian authorities on December 6 at the request of the United States and is now awaiting extradition. The other defendants remain at large.

“At this stage, Mr. Brayman has only been charged, not convicted of anything. Like all defendants, Mr. Brayman is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” David Lazarus, his attorney, said in a statement Tuesday.

Yermolenko’s public defender, Nora Hirozawa, declined to comment further.

The couple are expected to return to court in February.

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