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July 20, 2004

Fact Sheet


One of the highest priorities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security is to prevent terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products and sensitive technology. ICE’s Arms and Strategic Technology Investigations (ASTI) division is responsible for investigating such violations. Last year, ICE’s ASTI division opened approximately 3,000 new criminal investigations into the illegal export of U.S. munitions and sensitive technology.

Through an industry outreach program called “Project Shield America,” ICE’s ASTI division is also visiting U.S. manufacturers of arms and sensitive technology to educate them about export laws and to solicit their assistance in preventing illegal foreign acquisition of their products. Since late 2001, ICE agents have conducted more than 9,000 industry outreach visits, resulting in tips that have led to dozens of ICE criminal investigations nationwide and worldwide.

Some recent illegal export investigations by ICE include:

  • Sensitive Military Technology to China - On July 1, 2004, agents from ICE, the FBI, and the Department of Commerce arrested seven individuals in New Jersey on charges that they used their two companies, Universal Technologies, Inc., and Manten Electronics, Inc., to illegally export sensitive national-security controlled items to state-sponsored institutes in China. According to the complaints, the individuals were illegally exporting millions of dollars worth of items that are used in a wide variety of defense weapons systems, including smart weapons, radar, electronic warfare and communications systems. The U.S. Attorney in Camden, New Jersey, is prosecuting the case.

  • U.S. Fighter Jet to Colombia in Plot to Assassinate Drug Baron - On June 29, 2004, veteran British mercenary and longtime fugitive David Tomkins, 64, pleaded guilty in Miami to federal charges of violating the Arms Export Control Act. ICE agents had arrested Tomkins on August 31, 2003 upon his arrival in Houston on a flight from London. Tomkins had been charged in Miami in 1994 in connection with a scheme to buy an A-37 fighter jet from undercover ICE agents in 1991. At the time, Tomkins intended to use the fighter jet to bomb a Colombian prison that housed Pablo Escobar, the then-chief of Colombia’s Medellin drug cartel. Tomkins was being paid millions to assassinate Escobar by the rival Cali drug cartel in Colombia. Tomkins fled the United States prior to his 1994 indictment, after being tipped off to the ICE investigation by unknown parties. He remained a fugitive until his arrest in 2003.

  • U.S. Fighter Jet Components to China - On June 24, 2004, Ziad Jamil Gammoh, a Jordanian national, pleaded guilty to a four-count federal indictment in Los Angeles, charging one count of conspiracy and three counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act. Gammoh, and another individual, Amanullah Khan, a Pakistani national, were arrested by ICE agents in July 2003. The indictment alleged that the pair engaged in a plot to illegally export to China components for F-4 and F-5 U.S. military fighter jets. According to the indictment, Gammoh operated United Aircraft & Electronics, a business in Anaheim, Calif. that purchased and resold military aircraft parts to foreign commercial and government buyers.

  • U.S. Fighter Jet Components to Iran - On June 22, 2004, ICE agents arrested Hamid M. Butt, 71, a naturalized U.S. citizen and Pakistani native, after he arrived in Houston on a flight from Malaysia. Butt had been charged in New Jersey with violating the Arms Export Control Act for allegedly attempting to sell parts for the U.S. F-14 Tomcat fighter jet to Iran in 1999. Butt, who operated a Texas-based aircraft part supply business that had 95 percent of its customers in the Middle East, allegedly attempted to ship F-14 Tomcat parts, including a navigation light, connector and integrated circuit, to Germany via Newark International Airport, the complaint alleges. The parts were seized in New Jersey by border inspectors.

  • Military Night Vision Technology to China - On June 3, 2004, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California announced that two individuals (Philip Cheng and Martin Shih) and a San Jose company (Night Vision Technology) were indicted by a federal grand jury for illegally brokering the sale of military and commercial-grade night vision technology to China. Court documents in the case alleged that the pair had entered into a contract with the Chinese military to produce technology for night vision equipment in China. The defendants were also charged with money laundering and other export violations. The charges resulted from an extensive investigation by agents from ICE, the FBI, the IRS, and the Department of Commerce.

  • Sensitive Night Vision Technology to Iran - On May 11, 2004, a federal grand jury in Philadelphia indicted Eric Kyriacou, 24, of Houston, on charges of attempting to illegally export sensitive Astroscope night vision lenses to Iran. According to court documents, Kyriacou was attempting to sell the lenses on the Internet via e-bay to undercover ICE agents posing as international arms brokers. Undercover agents informed Kyriacou that the lenses would be going to Iran in violation of the Iranian embargo and other export laws. Kyriacou agreed to the sale and illegally exported the devices to undercover ICE agents believing that they were destined for Iran. ICE agents arrested Kyriacou in Newark on April 12, 2004.

  • Military Helicopter Components to Foreign Purchasers - On May 10, 2004, Rotair Industries, Inc. a military helicopter parts manufacturer in Connecticut pleaded guilty to two counts of illegally exporting U.S. defense articles. The company agreed to pay a criminal fine of $500,000. In addition, Wesley Harrington, the some of the company owner, pleaded guilty to attempting to impede ICE agents during a search of Rotair’s offices. ICE agents launched their probe of Rotair after items made by the firm were found to have ended up in Iran. Subsequently, two separate undercover investigations by ICE agents in Milwaukee and New Haven confirmed that Rotair was illegally exporting military helicopter parts without the required export licenses and approvals, even though the company had been specifically warned against such exports by the U.S. State Department.

  • Military Helicopter Engines and Night Vision Technology to China - On May 10, 2004, federal prosecutors in New Haven, Conn., unsealed an indictment charging two South Korean nationals, Kwonhwan Park and Sun-Ryual Chun, with illegally exporting military helicopter engines and thermal imaging technology to China. ICE agents arrested Park at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 1, 2004 as he attempted to board a plane bound for China with military night vision equipment in his luggage. Chun remains a fugitive. ICE agents in New Haven had been investigating Park for two years after his Malaysian firm bought two military helicopter engines from a U.S. firm and illegally exported them to China. He then attempted to buy four more such engines from a U.S. manufacturer, which notified ICE agents. ICE and Defense Criminal Investigative Service agents tracked Park as he entered the United States in March 2004 and arrested him as he attempted to depart with night vision technology.

  • Military Satellite and Radar Technology to China - On May 6, 2004, ICE agents in Los Angeles arrested John Chu, 44, of Pasadena, Calif., and Zhu Zhaoxin, 55, of Shenzhen, China, on charges of conspiring to purchase U.S. defense articles, including satellite and radar technology, for illegal export to China. The arrests occurred after the pair met with undercover ICE agents in Boston and flew to Los Angeles with inoperable versions of the defense articles. According to court documents, the pair had been in negotiations with undercover ICE agents in Boston since March 2004 to purchase a variety of sensitive items, including traveling wave tubes that are used in satellite and radar applications, for export to China.

  • Weapons to Colombian Terrorist Group - On April 1, 2004, ICE agents in Tampa, Florida, arrested Carlos Gamarra-Murillo, 53, of Bucaramanga, Colombia, on charges of attempting to purchase more than 6,000 machine guns, grenades, grenade launchers, and pistols for export to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a U.S. designated terrorist organization in Colombia. According to the criminal complaint, the total estimated value of the weapons to be brokered was nearly $4 million. Gamarra-Murrillo allegedly offered to pay undercover ICE agents posing as weapons suppliers 60 percent of the payment in cocaine and the remainder in U.S. currency upon delivering the weapons shipment to a clandestine airstrip in South America. Gamarra-Murrillo was arrested in Tampa after providing undercover ICE agents with a down payment for the weapons transaction.

  • Missile Components to the Middle East - On March 19, 2004, ICE agents arrested Leib Kohn, 70, in Brooklyn, NY, on charges of violating the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. According to the complaint, Kohn purchased from a Connecticut manufacturer various items used in HAWK missiles, military radar, and F-4 Phantom fighter jet aircraft. Kohn then allegedly exported these items to QPS, a company in Israel, while knowingly failing to obtain the required export license from the State Department. ICE worked closely with the Israeli National Police, who arrested another individual, Eli Cohen, after searching a QPS facility in Israel. ICE and Israeli police do not believe the final destination of the components was Israel. The investigation continues.

  • Missile Components to China - On March 12, 2004, ICE agents arrested two individuals in Orlando, Fla., on charges of violating the Export Administration Act, conspiracy, and false statements. Ting-Ih Hsu, a naturalized U.S. citizen and president of Azure Systems, Inc, and Hai Lin Nee, a Chinese citizen and an employee of Azure systems, were charged in a federal indictment with illegally exporting to China 25 low-noise amplifier chips that have applications in the U.S. Hellfire missile. According to the indictment, the defendants falsely labeled the sensitive technology in export documents as “transistors” worth some $20. If convicted, each could fact up to 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines. Hsu was a former employee of defense contractor Lockheed Martin. Nee formerly worked at a U.S. research institute that designed software for military and warfare simulations.

  • Missile Components to China - On March 5, 2004, Zhan Gao, a well-known U.S. human rights activist and scholar who had been jailed by Chinese authorities in 2001 for allegedly spying for Taiwan, was sentenced in the Eastern District of Virginia for illegally exporting sensitive U.S. technology with potential military applications to China. The technology exported by Gao could be used in missile guidance and airborne battle management systems. Gao and her husband, Donghua Xue, pleaded guilty in November 2003 to illegal arms export and tax fraud violations. Gao and Xue agreed to forfeit roughly $590,000 that they had received from China as payment for the exports. The guilty pleas resulted from an extensive ICE investigation that began in the Fall of 2000. Gao ultimately received a sentence of 15 months, including 7 months imprisonment followed by 8 months community confinement.

  • Nuclear Trigger Devices to Pakistan - On Jan. 1, 2004, Asher Karni, 50, was arrested in Denver on charges of violating the Export Administration Act in connection with a plot to export devices with nuclear weapons applications to Pakistan without the required license. The joint investigation by ICE agents in Boston and Department of Commerce agents established that Karni, an Israeli who lives in South Africa, was at the center of a global operation that used front companies and false billing records to route triggered spark gaps from a company in Massachusetts, to South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and ultimately to Pakistan. Triggered spark gaps can be used to detonate nuclear weapons, but also have civilian uses in hospitals. As part of the undercover investigation, ICE agents disabled 66 of the devices before they were routed to Pakistan. In court hearings, federal prosecutors have alleged that the nuclear trigger devices were routed to an individual in Pakistan who has ties to the Pakistani military. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia is prosecuting Karni. The investigation is ongoing.

  • Missile Technology to China - On Nov. 18, 2003, ICE agents in Haverhill, Mass., arrested William Kovacs, the president of Elatec Technology Corporation (ETC). On Nov. 13, 2003, Kovacs and his company ETC were indicted by a grand jury in Washington D.C. for conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and violations of the Export Administration Act. An ICE investigation had determined that ETC had exported a sophisticated industrial furnace with potential missile applications to a firm in China known as Chinese Great Wall. ETC had exported the furnace to China even after its export license for this shipment was denied by the Commerce Department.

  • Military Aircraft Parts to Taiwan - On Nov. 12, 2003, Jami Siraj Choudhury was sentenced in Milwaukee, Wisc. to 37 months imprisonment and fined $2,000 for violating the Arms Export Control Act. Choudhury pleaded guilty after an ICE investigation found that he had illegally exported engine starters for military aircraft to Taiwan.

  • Military Assault Weapons to Philippines - On Nov. 3, 2003, ICE announced the arrest of Victor “the Devil” Infante, 34, the leader of an international firearms and methamphetamine distribution organization, after a 9-month investigation that involved law enforcement agencies in the Philippines, New York, New Jersey, California, and Louisiana. Infante was charged with the attempted export of assault weapons, including MAC-11 submachine guns, MP-5s, HK-94s, Colt AR-15s, and Uzi Model Bs, to the Philippines. He was also charged with importing thousands of dollars of “meth” to New York and New Jersey. Infante was arrested by authorities in the Philippines and turned over to ICE/FBI custody. He is scheduled to be prosecuted in the Eastern District of New York. Philippine authorities contend that Infante supplied arms to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization in the Philippines.

  • Military Patrol Vessels to Iraq - On October 15, 2003, a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. charged Sabri Yakou, 69, and his son Regard Yakou, 43, with violations of the Arms Export Control Act for allegedly brokering the sale of 6 armored patrol boats, worth a total of $11 million, to the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. The arrests and charges were the result of an ICE investigation. The case was the first to result from the deployment of ICE teams to Iraq in March 2003 to investigate whether U.S. people or entities had violated U.S. laws or U.N. sanctions by supplying the Hussein regime in Iraq with munitions and other materials.

  • U.S. Fighter Jet Components to Iran - On Sept. 24, 2003, ICE agents in Miami announced the arrest of Serzhik Avassapian, a 40-year-old Iranian national, on charges of attempting to illegally export roughly $750,000 worth of U.S. F-14 fighter jet components to the Iranian government. During the undercover ICE investigation, there was also discussion of illegal exports of helicopters and C-130A electrical and avionic upgrades to Iran.

  • Equipment with Nuclear Applications to Pakistani Military - On Sept. 23, 2003, Omega Engineering of Stamford, Connecticut, was sentenced to pay $313,000 in criminal fines and an $187,000 civil penalty. On Sept. 22, the Chief Financial Officer of Omega was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and 5 years home confinement. The sentences resulted from an ICE investigation, which found that Omega and its CFO had willfully disregarded the denial of a U.S. export license, and illegally exported laboratory equipment with nuclear and non-nuclear applications to the Pakistani Ministry of Defense, National Development Center.

  • Shoulder-Fired Missiles Intended for Use Against U.S. Commercial Aircraft - On August 12, 2003, agents from ICE and the FBI arrested accused British arms dealer Hemant Lakhani on charges of attempting to sell a shoulder-fired missile to individuals in the U.S. with the understanding that it would be used to shoot down an American commercial jetliner. The criminal complaint alleged that Lakhani sought to arrange the sale of at least another 50 shoulder-fired missiles to an individual posing as a member of terrorist organization in the United States. Two other individuals were charged in connection with the monetary aspects of the case.

  • Components for Missiles and Fighter Jets to Iranian Front Company - On July 10, 2003, ICE agents executed search warrants on 18 U.S. companies in 10 states suspected of exporting military components to Multicore, Ltd., a front company in London that was involved in clandestinely procuring weapons systems worldwide for the Iranian military. Among the items allegedly exported by these U.S. companies to Multicore were components for HAWK missiles, F-14 fighter jets, F-5 fighter jets, F-4 fighter jets, C-130 military aircraft, military radars, and other equipment.

  • Components for Howitzers, Military Radars to Pakistan - On June 12, 2003, Yasmin Ahmed and Tariq Ahmed pleaded guilty in the District of Connecticut to conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act. The ICE investigation determined that the couple had purchased in the U.S. and attempted to illegally export to Pakistan parts for Howitzer canons, military radars, and armored personnel carriers. As part of this investigation, Allen Haller and his Florida-based company, Mart Haller, Inc., pleaded guilty in Connecticut on June 9 to conspiracy to illegally export military components to a Pakistani company in the United Arab Emirates.

  • “Drone” Components to Pakistan - On May 29, 2003, ICE agents in Chicago arrested a Pakistani woman on charges of false statements in connection with the attempted export of components for unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones” to Pakistan. ICE agents determined that the woman was attempting to export these goods to an individual affiliated with the Pakistani military.

  • Military Aircraft and Engines to Libya - On March 26, 2003, a German pilot pleaded guilty to a 2-count indictment out of Tampa, Florida, charging him with conspiracy to illegally export engines for C-130 military aircraft and CH-47 Chinook helicopters to Libya. During the investigation, the pilot also negotiated with undercover ICE agents to buy 4 complete aircraft, two of which he said were for intended for Moammar Qadaffi’s use. ICE agents arrested the pilot on Jan. 10, 2002.

  • Military Radar Components to Iran - On March 4, 2003, the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore announced the indictment of two individuals on charges that they had attempted to illegally export from the U.S. to Iran an array of military components, including radar detection electronics, satellite images of Tehran, and a Cobra attack helicopter. ICE agents arrested one defendant in Guam. The other remains a fugitive.

  • Satellite Technology to China - On March 4, 2003, Hughes Electronics Corp. and Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc. entered into a civil settlement with the State Department in which the companies agreed to pay a $32 million fine, $8 million of which would go to ICE. The agreement settled charges that the firms had illegally shared sensitive satellite technology/know-how with China.

  • Missile Components to China - On Feb. 27, 2003, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles announced three separate indictments in which five individuals and four U.S. companies were indicted for attempting to illegally export components for Hawk Missiles, TOW Missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder Missiles, F-4 Phantom fighter jets, and F-14 Tomcat fighter jets. Many of these components were bound for China. The ICE undercover investigation into these plots lasted roughly five years.

  • Military Communications Equipment to Pakistan - On Feb. 27, 2003, Raytheon agreed to pay $25 million to settle claims that it had attempted to illegally export troposcatter communications equipment to the Pakistani military. Raytheon agreed to pay $20 million to the ICE, $3 million to the State Department, and to invest $2 million to upgrade its internal export compliance program.

  • Fighter Jet Components to Overseas Locations - On Dec. 10, 2002, the U.S. Attorney in Milwaukee announced the indictment of three individuals and three U.S. companies on charges that they had attempted to illegally export components for F-4 and F-15 fighter jets, as well as parts for Sikorsky military helicopters and C-130 military aircraft. The indictment was the result of an ICE investigation.

  • Military Encryption Devices to China - On Oct. 18, 2002, the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore announced that two individuals had been sentenced to jail terms for conspiring to export sensitive military encryption devices to China via Singapore. The sale of these sensitive items requires approval by the National Security Agency. ICE agents arrested both individuals in August 2001.

  • Military Aircraft Components to Iran - On July 18, 2002, an individual was sentenced in the Eastern District of New York to a jail term in connection with a scheme to export parts for 20-mm aircraft canons and other military parts to Iran via a front company in Switzerland. ICE agents arrested the individual in 2001.

  • Nuclear Trigger Devices to Israel - On April 29, 2002, an individual was sentenced to jail in the Central District of California in connection with a 1980-82 scheme to export to Israel roughly 800 krytrons, which are high-speed timing devices that can be used to detonate a nuclear warhead. Authorities in Spain arrested the individual in July 2001 after 16 years on the run. He had been indicted in the U.S. in 1985.

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, responsible for the enforcement of border, economic, infrastructure and transportation security laws. ICE seeks to prevent acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities.

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