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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit
07/28/2008

Army captain pleads guilty to illegally smuggling military firearms to Japan

SEATTLE – A U.S. Army captain stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., pleaded guilty today in federal court to felony charges of conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Tomoaki Iishiba, 34, admitted in a plea agreement that he shipped firearms parts, including holographic night vision firearms sites, to contacts in Japan and that he falsified the customs declaration forms with fraudulent information.  The exports started in late 2006 and continued until February 2008.

Currently assigned at Fort Lewis as an Assistant Operations Officer, Iishiba was previously stationed in Japan as a military intelligence officer, serving as a liaison to the Japanese military training Japanese soldiers.  While there, he made contact with individuals who later received the illegal shipments of EoTech 553 holographic night vision compatible firearm sights; EoTech 550 firearm sights; upper receivers modified for Airsoft; and various scopes used for military purposes.  Iishiba purposely mislabeled the customs form for the shipment because he knew he needed a license to ship the firearms parts to Japan.

“Knowingly exporting sensitive military technology is a violation of federal law,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Seattle.  “ICE continues to work closely with its law enforcement partners to investigate this type of activity to ensure that our nation’s security is not breached in this manner.”

In court today, attorneys said Iishiba’s future with the military is unclear.  As a convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing firearms.  Iishiba faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.  His sentencing is scheduled for November 7.

ICE was assisted in this case by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.