Wednesday, January 13, 2010

California Ring Smuggling Nuke Parts to Iran

Looks like those tough sanctions are really working out.
Federal authorities on Wednesday said a 56-year-old Glendale man was arrested earlier this week on charges that he violated a litany of international sanctions against shipping materials to Iran.

Jiraiir Avenessian, 56, was accused of smuggling high-dollar vacuum and pump-related equipment to Iran through the United Arab Emirates to avoid greater customs scrutiny, and that he laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars via international money transfers to his U.S. bank account.

He was arrested at his Glendale home without incident on Monday, officials said.

Authorities in Frankfurt, Germany arrested Avanessian’s alleged accomplice, 42-year-old Farhoud Masoumian, of Iran, earlier this week and were holding him while U.S. authorities worked on an extradition request, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the Department of Justice.

An arrest warrant was issued for a third man, Amirhossein Sairafi, of Iran, who was alleged to be involved in the conspiracy, but he remained at large, officials said.
Gee, I wonder where he might be?
According to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Avanassian received orders from Masoumian on behalf of clients in Iran. As an end around trade embargoes and sanctions with Iran, Avanassian, owner of Glendale-based XVAC, changed labels on expensive equipment and lied on shipping forms to avoid customs scrutiny.

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