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An indictment and a complaint were unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn variously charging 10 defendants with transportation of stolen property, failure to file export information, illegal exportation of electronic devices and conspiracy to commit these offenses.    The defendants allegedly participated in the illegal smuggling of electronic devices, particularly Apple products, from the United States to Russia using couriers, many of whom were current and former employees of Aeroflot Airlines.

Akmal Asadov, Sayuz Daibagya, Anton Perevoznikov, Shohruh Saidov, Marat Shadkhin, Kirill Sokhonchuk and Zokir Iskanderov were arrested today and will be arraigned this afternoon via teleconference before United States Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon.  Azamat Bobomurodov was arrested in the Northern District of Illinois and will be arraigned in that district later today.  Two additional defendants are fugitives.

Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Keith Byrne, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, New York Field Office; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); Troy Miller, Director of Field Operations, Customs and Border Protection, New York Field Office (CBP); Jonathan Carson, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office (Commerce); Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York Office (HSI); and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrests and charges.   

“As alleged, the defendants were members of an international smuggling ring that used a network of operators here and in Russia to circumvent U.S. export laws and regulations,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme.  “With today’s arrests, the network has been disabled thanks to the outstanding work of the Eastern District of New York prosecutors who worked tirelessly alongside our agency partners to closely scrutinize the goods and individuals that transit our international borders.”

“If you believe it is acceptable to exploit positions with a foreign airline to smuggle millions of dollars in illegal goods back to Russia as we allege, the answer is Nyet.  While this international smuggling ring’s activities demonstrate vulnerabilities exist, it also highlights that the combined efforts of federal agents, detectives, analysts and prosecutors are a powerful counter to any threat.  The FBI New York office and our inter-agency partners are on watch, and we all take our obligation to enforce our laws and protect the United States seriously,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

“This case represents the finest efforts of cooperative law enforcement,” stated Department of State Special Agent-in-Charge Byrne.  “If criminal enterprises manipulate the instruments of international travel for profitable gain, then we are all at risk on the national security level. The federal agencies, police, and the United States Attorney’s Office deserve high praise for vigorously defending the interests and security of the United States of America.”   

“CBP takes a comprehensive approach to border security and control, combining customs, and immigration, into one coordinated and supportive activity by leveraging our unique authorities to enhance criminal investigations. This indictment serves as a direct message that no matter how complex the criminal scheme, crimes occurring at our border will be stopped,” stated CBP Director Miller.

“Today’s action is the result of the outstanding effort and collaboration among law enforcement agencies. The illicit smuggling of goods on commercial aircraft is a serious violation of export control and public safety laws that we take very seriously. We will continue to pursue violators wherever they are, worldwide,” stated Commerce Special Agent-in-Charge Carson.

“Those charged today are alleged to have taken full advantage of their position with the airline to smuggle more than $50 million in stolen electronics to Russia,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh.  “It is with the continued collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that we are able to put an end to schemes like these that rob U.S. businesses of millions while funding illicit organizations overseas that threaten our national security.”

“As alleged, these defendants used commercial air travel in furtherance of their illegal smuggling scheme, a staggeringly dangerous circumstance that this investigation uncovered and grounded. I thank our dedicated NYPD detectives and all of our law enforcement partners for their work in this case,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.

As set forth in the government’s court filings, the defendants allegedly engaged in a scheme to export over $50 million worth of electronic devices, including Apple iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches, from the United States to Russia.  The defendants allegedly carried out this scheme by smuggling cash and merchandise via airline passengers, including current and former Aeroflot Airlines employees.  Upon receiving instructions from defendant Daibagya, a resident of Russia, Aeroflot Airlines crew members and others travelled to the United States to pick up the electronic devices.  Defendants Asadov, Sokhonchuk, Perevoznikov and Shadkhin, together with others in the United States, had obtained the devices, many of which had been stolen, to be sent to Russia without the required export authorizations.  During the investigation, searches of luggage belonging to various Aeroflot crew members and other couriers revealed millions of dollars of electronic devices.  Occasionally, defendants Daibagya and Saidov smuggled the devices themselves.  For example, between August 2019 and December 2019, Daibagya took four trips from the United States transporting over 1,000 Apple products valued at over $1 million, and on October 5, 2019, Saidov carried nine suitcases containing 235 Apple products with an estimated value of about $250,000.  

As a result of the investigation, the Department of State has revoked approximately 113 visas of Aeroflot employees for their participation in their scheme.

Search warrants executed at the time of the defendants’ arrest revealed over $600,000 in cash, including some hidden in the crawl space of Shadkhin’s residence, and large amounts of electronic devices.

The charges in the indictment and complaint are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Keith D. Edelman, Andrey Spektor and Dana Rehnquist are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendants:

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-415 (ARR)

AKMAL ASADOV
Age: 38
Brooklyn, New York

SAYUZ DAIBAGYA
Age: 46
Moscow, Russia

ANTON PEREVOZNIKOV
Age: 34
Brooklyn, New York

SHOHRUH SAIDOV
Age: 31
Brooklyn, New York

MARAT SHADKHIN
Age: 40
Brooklyn, New York

KIRILL SOKHONCHUK
Age: 37
Brooklyn, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-MJ-884 (LB)

AZAMAT BOBOMURODOV
Age: 31
Brooklyn, New York

ZOKIR ISKANDEROV
Age: 30
Brooklyn, New York

MIL Security OSI