Seven have been charged in a Russian smuggling ring involving residents of New Hampshire and New Jersey
Washington – A Russian man living in New Hampshire allegedly used his Merrimack home as a “transshipment point” to smuggle US-made military equipment into Russia, part of a coordinated effort to circumvent US export laws, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Alexey Brayman is one of seven defendants charged in a 16-count indictment accused of participating in an international program to transport American products to Russia through countries including Estonia, Finland, Germany and Hong Kong in violation of federal law.
Brayman’s co-defendants include a US citizen from New Jersey, a technical director for a Moscow-based engineering company that contracts with Russian intelligence, and a Russian citizen who once lived in Brooklyn.
According to the indictment unsealed in the East District of New York, Yevgeniy Grinin, Aleksey Ippolitov, Boris Livshits, Svetlana Skvortsova, Vadim Konoshchenok, Vadim Yermolenko and Brayman used shell companies and fake addresses and fake shipping labels to ship the equipment to Russia from 2017 until at least spring 2022 transport.
The goods allegedly smuggled include “advanced electronics and sophisticated test equipment” intended to be used for nuclear weapons development and other military and space-based military applications. Investigators say the items were repackaged and shipped from several “intermediate locations” once they reached Europe and Asia before finally being shipped to Russia.
Prosecutors say the defendants coordinated their efforts to break US export control laws restricting trade with Russia, particularly laws enacted in response to the Kremlin’s invasions of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the Treasury Ministry sanctioned two of the Russian companies at the heart of the alleged plan — Serniya and Sertal — and even targeted Grinin himself, describing the entire network as “instrumental in the Russian Federation’s war machine.” “ referred to.
The pipeline, described in court documents, allegedly began with Russian defense and technology companies asking Ippolitov for the American equipment, and he would then pass orders to Grinn and Skvortsovato to secure funding.
Livshits is accused of communicating directly with the US firms, often using the pseudonym “David Wetksy”, to purchase desired military equipment. In one example, prosecutors alleged Livshits used the alias in the spring of 2022 — after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began — to contact an Illinois-based electronics retailer about purchasing some type of electrical signal monitoring system restricted by the Commerce Department is for anti-terrorist reasons.
The Russian national allegedly bought the device, known as a dual-use oscilloscope, from the American company for $25,000 and shipped it to Brayman’s New Hampshire residence. There Brayman mailed the package to Hamburg, Germany. Yermolenko, who lives in New Jersey, joined Brayman in illegally exporting goods from the United States, indictment documents show.
Investigators say Livshits – who also founded and ran numerous shell companies in the US – did not tell US companies how the equipment was to be used or that Russian companies were waiting to receive it.
According to the indictment, released this month, Brayman and Livshits allegedly discussed sending goods “up and down” to Russia via Germany.
And as recently as October 22, Konoshchenok, a Russian citizen living in Estonia, was stopped by police at that country’s border with Russia, where law enforcement agencies allegedly found 35 types of semiconductors, thousands of 6.5mm bullets that originally made in Nebraska, and ammunition found for sniper rifles.
Konoshchenok, a suspected Russian intelligence officer, is accused of smuggling numerous US-made goods from Estonia to Russia, including dual-use electronics, military-grade tactical ammunition and other export-controlled items, the Justice Ministry said.
“With three of the defendants now in custody, we have disrupted the procurement network allegedly used by the defendants and Russian intelligence agencies to smuggle sniper rifle ammunition and sensitive electronic components into Russia,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The Justice Department 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 plot was coordinated by the ministry’s Task Force Kleptocapture, an interagency response to Russia’s invasion of Urkaine earlier this year led by Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
According to the Justice Department, Brayman surrendered 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 taken into custody by the Estonian authorities on December 6 at the request of the US and is now facing extradition. The other accused remain at large.
“At this stage Mr Brayman has only been charged, he has not yet been convicted. Like all defendants, Mr. Brayman is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” said David Lazarus, his attorney, in a statement Tuesday.
Yermolenko’s public defender, Nora Hirozawa, declined to comment further.
The couple are expected to be back in court in February.