Munitions Dealer Arrested and Charged in Conspiracy to Export Military Aircraft Parts to Iran

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An Iranian national has been arrested and charged, along with ten other defendants, with participating in a conspiracy to export U.S.-made military aircraft parts to Iran, the Justice Department announced today.

The arrest and indictment were announced by R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Michael Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement; Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations; Amie R. Tanchak, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service; and James M. Foster, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service.

Defendant Baktash Fattahi, an Iranian national and legal U.S. resident, was arrested in California on April 3, 2009, on charges of conspiring to export military aircraft parts to Iran. Federal agents arrested Fattahi at his apartment in Lancaster, CA. He remains in federal custody in California and will be removed to Miami to face the charges in the Indictment.

Baktash Fattahi and ten other defendants were indicted on April 2, 2009, by a federal grand jury sitting in Miami on charges of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the U.S. Iran Embargo, and the Arms Export Control Act for their participation in a conspiracy to export U.S.-made military aircraft parts to Iran.

The other defendants charged in the indictment are Amir Hosein Atabaki, an Iranian national; Mohammad Javad Mohammad Esmaeil, an Iranian national; Abbas Haider, an Indian citizen residing in Dubai; Mohammed Javid Yahya Saboni, an Iranian national residing in Dubai; Reza Zahedi Pour, an Iranian national; Mahdi Electronic Trading Co, an Iranian business; Planet Commercial Brokerage, a Dubai business; Raht Aseman Co. Ltd, an Iranian business; Sahab Phase, an Iranian business; and Sea Speed UAE, a Dubai business.

The Arms Export Control Act prohibits the export of military items designated as "defense articles" on the U.S. Munitions List (USML) without a license or authorization from the Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC).

The U.S. Iran Embargo (the Embargo) prohibits the exportation from the United States to Iran of any goods, technology, or services, with limited exceptions, unless authorized by the Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC). The Embargo is enforced through the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to and did export thirteen different types of aircraft parts designated as defense articles on the USML from the United States to Iran by way of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Among the aircraft parts the defendants are alleged to have obtained and illegally shipped to buyers in Iran are parts for the F-5 ("Tiger") Fighter Jet, the Bell AH-1 ("Cobra") Attack Helicopter, the CH-53 Military Helicopter, the F-14 ("Tomcat") Fighter Jet, and the UH-1 ("Huey") Military Helicopter.

All of these aircraft are known to be used primarily, if not exclusively, by the Iranian military. Moreover, all of the military parts exported by the defendants are manufactured in the United States, are designed exclusively for military use, and have been designated by the U.S. Department of State as "defense articles" on the USML, thus requiring registration and licensing with the DDTC. None of the defendants are registered or had the required license to ship defense articles to Iran.

According to the Indictment, defendants in Iran sent orders by email to a co-conspirator in Novato, CA, for specific aircraft parts. The co-conspirator in Calif. then requested quotes, usually by e-mail, from another co-conspirator in Plantation, FL, and made arrangements with that co-conspirator in Plantation for the sale and shipment of the parts to one of several defendants in Dubai. From Dubai, the parts were then shipped on to Iran.

If convicted, the defendants face statutory maximum sentences ranging from ten years' imprisonment to twenty years' imprisonment, and face fines of up to $1 million.