WASHINGTON – On Feb. 24, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) removed Thai national Apichart Srivaranon, 35, to Thailand. Srivaranon pleaded guilty to charges in both Maryland and the District of Columbia in January and March 2019, respectively, and was sentenced to 26 months of incarceration.
Srivaranon was indicted by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Nov. 9, 2016 and Aug. 29, 2017, respectively, for conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and for attempts to export firearms parts to Thailand in Sept. 2013 and Oct. 2013. He was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 22, 2018, after flying from Thailand to attend a trade show unrelated to the charges in the case.
Srivaranon purchased firearms parts online from United States gun manufacturers. These firearms parts included key components for AR-15 and M-16 military-style assault rifles. Srivaranon then had the firearms parts sent to addresses in the United States for his co-conspirators in Ohio, New York, Maryland and Nevada. Srivaranon recruited his co-conspirators, often women living in the United States for the first time as au pairs and, in one instance, a University of Maryland college student. Upon receipt of the munitions, Srivaranon directed his co-conspirators to repackage the parts and falsely label United States Postal Service (USPS) Customs forms. Srivaranon also directed his co-conspirators to falsely declare the contents of these packages upon shipment, listing the contents as spare parts, bicycle parts, fishing parts, or toy parts, and then ship them to Thailand via USPS and private shipping companies. To avoid detection, Srivaranon instructed his co-conspirators to alternate the frequency and addresses of shipments, as well as the estimated value of the contents of the shipments.
In his guilty plea to the District of Columbia charges, Srivaranon admitted that to facilitate the scheme, he and others deposited funds into co-conspirators’ bank accounts in Thailand. The funds were deposited in Thai Baht currency. The co-conspirators would then withdraw U.S. dollars from automatic teller machines (ATMs) in the United States, as payment for their participation in the scheme.
On November 27, 2019, the Federal Bureau of Prisons released Srivaranon to the custody of ERO Washington, D.C. ERO Washington served Srivaranon a notice to appear for immigration proceedings. On January 17, 2020, an immigration judge in Arlington, Virginia ordered Srivaranon removed to Thailand on national security grounds due to his violation of U.S. export laws and ERO officers carried out that order.