Munitions Dealers Arrested for Conspiracy to Export Military Aircraft Parts to Iran
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Defendants Hassan Saied Keshari and Traian Bujduveanu were arrested on June 20 and 21 on charges of conspiring to export military aircraft parts to Iran, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
The two suspects are charged in a federal criminal complaint with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the United States Iran Embargo, and the Arms Export Control Act for their participation in a conspiracy to export U.S.-made military aircraft parts to the Iranian military.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Keshari owns and operates Kesh Air International, a business located in Novato, California. Bujduveanu owns and operates Orion Aviation Corp., located in Plantation, Florida.
The affidavit alleges that since August 2006, Keshari and Bujduveanu have procured US-made military aircraft parts in the United States for buyers in Iran and have illegally shipped the parts to a company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, for shipment to buyers in Iran.
Keshari allegedly received the orders for specific parts by e-mail from buyers in Iran. Keshari then requested quotes, usually by e-mail, from Bujduveanu and made arrangements with Bujduveanu for the sale and shipment of the parts to a company in Dubai. From Dubai, the parts were then shipped on to Iran.
Among the aircraft parts that Keshari and Bujduveanu are alleged to have obtained and illegally shipped to buyers in Iran are parts for the CH-53 military helicopter, the F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, and the AH-1 attack helicopter. Keshari is also alleged to have requested quotes for other parts for other military aircraft, including F-4 Phantom aircraft.
All of these aircraft are known to be used primarily, if not exclusively, by the Iranian military. Moreover, all of the parts supplied by Keshari and Bujduveanu are manufactured in the United States, are designed exclusively for military use, and have been designated by the United States Department of State as "defense articles" on the United States Munitions List, thus requiring registration and licensing with the DDTC. Neither Keshari nor Bujduveanu are registered or had the required license to ship defense articles to Iran.
Shortly before midnight on Friday, June 20, 2008, federal agents arrested Keshari at Miami International Airport as he walked off a flight from Atlanta. A search warrant was executed on Kesh Air International, in California, on Friday, June 20, 2008. Defendant Bujduveanu was arrested at his Plantation, FL, home on Saturday, June 21, 2008. Federal agents executed a search warrant at Bujduveanu's home and business immediately after his arrest. Agents found boxes of military aircraft parts stored on Bujduvenau's property, including hundreds of parts for the C-130, the F-5, and other military aircraft.
Both defendants made their initial appearances in federal court before a United States Magistrate Judge.
The complaint, charges the defendants with conspiring to illegally export "defense articles," and to export US made articles to Iran, and if convicted, the defendants face statutory maximum sentences ranging from five (5) years' imprisonment to twenty (20) years' imprisonment, and face fines of up to $1 million.
"Disrupting illegal procurement networks that attempt to circumvent our sanctions against Iran is a top priority of the Bureau of Industry and Security," said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Michael Johnson.
"This case demonstrates the importance of team work in preventing diversion of sensitive U.S. goods," he added.
Special Agent in Charge Christopher Amato, of the Pentagon's Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Southeast Field Office, said, "The illegal diversion of U.S. military technologies through deception, particularly to countries such as Iran, is treacherous and dangerous to the U.S. and its allies."
According to government officials, the national security implications of this case cannot be underestimated. This investigation foiled a potentially dangerous scheme to sell and distribute sensitive US military equipment. In the wrong hands, technology like this could be used to inflict harm upon America or its allies. ICE will continue to aggressively pursue those who violate U.S. export laws and ensure the sale and distribution of defense articles is done in a lawful manner.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.