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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit
01/08/2014

Ga. man sentenced for illegal shipment of industrial machines to Iran

ROME, Ga. — A Georgia man was sentenced to 18 months in prison Monday for conspiring to send water-jet cutting machines to Iran in violation of the U.S. trade embargo. The sentencing follows a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Export Enforcement.

On Sept. 26, jury found Mark Mason Alexander, aka Musa Mahmood Ahmed, 53, of Roswell, guilty of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

"Today's sentence demonstrates that the United States will continue to vigorously pursue and bring to justice those who evade our economic sanctions," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "The trade embargo against the Islamic Republic of Iran is not limited to those who specifically seek to supply the country with military items or with items for use in its nuclear weapon proliferation program. Rather, businesses and individuals who engage in commercial transactions with businesses and individuals in the Islamic Republic of Iran are cautioned that they are still subject to prosecution under existing sanctions."

"This is the latest example of the commitment of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Export Enforcement to protect our national security through effective enforcement of U.S. export control laws" said Robert Luzzi, special agent in charge of the Office of Export Enforcement's Miami Field Office. "We will continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners including Homeland Security Investigations, Atlanta Field Office, to investigate arrest and convict those individuals who illegally export U.S technology to state sponsors of terrorism."

"The magnitude and scope of the threats facing the United States is complex and wide-ranging, and that's why HSI investigates individuals who try to export sensitive technologies to hostile nations," said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of HSI Atlanta. "Homeland Security Investigations, along with our partners like the Department of Commerce, take pride in protecting our country, and today's sentencing is just the latest example of our effective investigative efforts."

According to the charges and other information presented in court, between October 2006 and June 2008, Alexander conspired with two Iranian businessmen to sell Hydrajet water-jet cutting systems to customers located in Iran. Hydrajet Technology, located in Dalton, manufactured the water-jet cutting systems which were used for the precision cutting of materials such as aluminum, glass, granite and steel. These machines were distributed to customers in the Middle East through Hydrajet Mena, another company that Alexander partly owned which was located in the United Arab Emirates and for which Alexander worked as the CEO.

In 2007, as part of the conspiracy, Alexander negotiated the sale of two water-jet cutting systems to companies located in the Islamic Republic of Iran – the Parand Machine Company and the Negin Sanat Sadr Company.

In July 2007, after Alexander negotiated the terms of these sales and before the machines were shipped to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the U.S. Department of Commerce conducted a community outreach meeting with Alexander, as the CEO of Hydrajet Technology. This outreach program was designed to make exporters, like Alexander, aware of the various export restrictions, including the trade embargo against Iran, and to educate exporters about the process for legally exporting items from the United States.

The evidence further established that the machines that Alexander conspired to sell were in fact manufactured in Dalton. He concealed the true destination of these machines by causing them to be transshipped to the Islamic Republic of Iran via Alexander's company in the United Arab Emirates. Alexander additionally instructed Hydrajet Mena employees to travel to Islamic Republic of Iran to install the machines and to conduct software training for the Iranians who would operate them.