United States Flag
Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security

Report Crimes: Email or Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE

Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit
04/06/2009

Munitions dealer charged in conspiracy to export military aircraft parts to Iran

MIAMI - An Iranian national was arrested in Lancaster, Calif. on April 3, 2009, for conspiring to export military aircraft parts to Iran. The charges are the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of State.

Baktash Fattahi, a lawful U.S. permanent resident, and 10 other defendants were indicted on April 2, 2009, by a federal grand jury in Miami for their participation in a conspiracy to export U.S.-made military aircraft parts to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, U.S. Iran Embargo, and the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). Federal agents arrested Fattahi at his apartment in Lancaster, Calif. He remains in federal custody in California and will be removed to Miami to face the charges in the indictment.

Charged in the indictment were: Iranian nationals Amir Hosein Atabaki, Mohammad Javad Mohammad Esmaeil, Mohammed Javid Yahya Saboni and Reza Zahedi Pour, as well as Abbas Haider, an Indian citizen residing in Dubai. Iranian businesses Mahdi Electronic Trading Co., Raht Aseman Co., Ltd., and Sahab Phase, in addition to Dubai businesses Speed UAE and Planet Commercial Brokerage, were also part of the indictment.

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

The U.S. Iran Embargo prohibits the exportation of any goods, technology or services, with limited exceptions, unless authorized by the Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets. The embargo is enforced through the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to and did export 13 different types of aircraft parts designated as defense articles on the USML from the U.S. 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, Bell AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter, CH-53 Military Helicopter, 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 and 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.

The indictment further alleges that defendants in Iran sent orders by email to a co-conspirator in Novato, Calif., for specific aircraft parts. The co-conspirator in California then requested quotes, usually by e-mail, from another co-conspirator in Plantation, Fla., 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 to Iran.

If convicted, the defendants face statutory maximum sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years in prison and face fines of up to $1 million. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Damian. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.