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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit

Russian national pleads guilty to conspiring to smuggle night vision technology to Russia

WILMINGTON, Del. — A Russian national pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to export high-tech military technology, including night vision devices and thermal imaging scopes, to Russia. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Dmitry Ustinov, 48, of Moscow, pleaded guilty in the District of Delaware federal court to conspiring to export the high-tech military technology, in violation of federal law. The military technology listed in the conspiracy offense was designated on the United States Munition List as defense articles and was prohibited from export outside the United States pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

"HSI will continue to pursue individuals who are willing to put America's national security at risk,” said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. “The illegal export of technology to prohibited countries is controlled so that it cannot be used to harm America or its allies. Enforcing export laws are one of HSI's top priorities and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to stop these criminals in their tracks.”

“The export of items designated on the U.S. Munitions List as defense articles is a serious federal crime that could jeopardize the safety and well-being of United States’ service members or our allies,” said U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III. “Individuals engaging in this activity can and will be prosecuted even if we have to reach across the ocean to make the arrest.”

Following a lengthy HSI investigation, Ustinov was indicted by a grand jury March 25, 2013. On April 15, 2013, at the request of the United States Government, Ustinov was arrested in Vilnius, Lithuania, after entering the country from Russia. On May 7, 2013, the grand jury issued a superseding indictment with additional offenses related to smuggling arms outside the United States. He was subsequently extradited from Lithuania to Delaware Aug. 23, 2013.

According to court documents, between July 2010 and April 2013, Ustinov worked with a supplier based in Virginia to purchase and export night vision equipment from the United States to Russia without obtaining any export licenses from the U.S. Department of State. Ustinov arranged for international wire transfers to occur so that money could be provided to the supplier’s bank account as payment for this equipment. The conspiracy offense alleged that various types of high-tech night vision devices were part of the scheme, including an L3 Insight Mini Thermal Monocular, Night Optics D-740 Night Vision Scopes and Forward Looking Infrared Tau 640 Thermal Imaging Cameras, among other targeting devices.

Ustinov faces up to five years in federal prison, three years’ of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Oct. 2, 2014.