Did you feel a chilling breeze of Cold War nostalgia wafting though Houston today?
Yeah, neither did we.
But we could have, because the elements were present as U.S. Department of Justice officials here and in New York announced they'd busted a major ring credited with supplying secret high-tech hardware to the Russian military and spy agencies.
Alexander Fishenko and eight other defendants were arrested today by HPD and the FBI at Arc Electronics, Inc. in the 9500 block of Townpark Drive, the DOJ announced. Three other defendants are allegedly part of the scheme and will appear before a judge.
Federal prosecutors say Fishenko obtained gear that is "subject to strict government controls due to their potential use in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems, and detonation triggers."
Where's Jack Ryan when you need him? Apparently working in DOJ Houston like he/she should be.
As part of the scheme, the feds say, Arc claimed they weren't dealing with sophisticated spy and military stuff, but with....traffic lights?
For example, in order to obtain microelectronics containing controlled, sensitive technologies, Arc claimed to American suppliers that, rather than exporting goods to Russia, it merely manufactured benign products such as traffic lights. Arc also falsely claimed to be a traffic light manufacturer on its website. In fact, Arc manufactured no goods and operated exclusively as an exporter.
It could have been worse, we guess -- they could have claimed to have been dealing with traffic-light cameras. Then you'd have the Kuboshes on your case.
And these guys made sure to cover their tracks, if further excerpts from court documents supplied by DOJ are any indication.
On yet another occasion, Posobilov instructed a Russian procurement company to "make sure that" the end use certificate indicated "fishing boats, and not fishing/anti-submarine ones . . . Then we'll be able to start working."
Yeah, don't mention that who "anti-submarine" thing, if you can avoid it.
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Fishenko faces a maximum term of incarceration of twenty years for conspiring to commit money laundering, and ten years for acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government, the feds say.
"As alleged in the indictment, the defendants spun an elaborate web of lies to evade the laws that protect our national security. The defendants tried to take advantage of America's free markets to steal American technologies for the Russian government. But U.S. law enforcement detected, disrupted, and dismantled the defendants' network," stated United States Attorney Loretta E. Lynch.
And, just for the hell of it, a quick USSR/Russia-mob history lesson via the opening credits of a not-great remake (The Jackal) of an all-time terrific thriller (The Day of the Jackal).