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Army captain sentenced for smuggling firearms parts to Japan

Military intelligence officer falsified customs forms

SEATTLE - A captain in the U.S. Army was sentenced today in federal court to one year in prison and three years of supervised release on charges of conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Tomoaki Iishiba, 34, a nine-year veteran of the Army who is currently stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., admitted to shipping firearms parts, including holographic night vision firearms sights to contacts in Japan, with false information on customs declaration forms. Earlier in his army career, Iishiba was stationed in Japan as a military intelligence officer. He was a liaison to the Japanese military and assisted in the training of Japanese soldiers.

In his plea agreement, Iishiba admitted that beginning in 2006 and continuing until early 2008, he shipped EoTech 553 holographic night vision compatible firearm sights; EoTech 550 firearm sights; upper receivers modified for Airsoft; and various scopes to individuals he had met while serving with the U.S. Army in Japan. 

Two of the shipments, which occurred in October and December 2006, contained holographic sights. Iishiba purposely mislabeled the customs forms for these shipments because he knew he needed a license to ship these firearms parts to Japan.

"The illegal export of U.S. weapons and technology could jeopardize our nation's security," said Leigh Winchell, ICE special agent in charge of the office of investigations in Seattle. "ICE takes this type of violation of federal law seriously and we will continue to aggressively investigate these cases."

U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman said at the sentencing hearing that Iishiba was "a soldier who had abused his trust, using his military address to order parts and then shipping them to foreign nationals. The problem with putting something in the stream of commerce is you don't know where it will end up."

In addition to the prison sentence and probation, prosecutors expect Iishiba's military career is over, writing in court documents that, "the loss of his military career will be a difficult blow to the defendant. It is clear that he has committed his life to service in the U.S. Army. Losing his military career, under these difficult circumstances, will serve as a more severe punishment than anything this Court could impose."

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