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Press Release

Russian National Receives 18 Month Prison Sentence for Smuggling High-Tech Night Vision Technology to Russia

For Immediate Release
National Security Division

WILMINGTON, Del. - Dmitry Ustinov, of Moscow, Russia, 53, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 18 months in prison and 3 years supervised release, for conspiracy to export high-tech military technology, in violation of federal law, including the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), announced Charles M. Oberly, III, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware yesterday afternoon.  Ustinov will be deported from the United States upon his release from federal prison.

Ustinov has been incarcerated since April 15, 2013, when he was arrested at the request of the U.S. Government in Vilnius, Lithuania after entering the country from Russia.  On August 23, 2013, Lithuania extradited Ustinov to the United States.  On July 10, 2013, Ustinov pled guilty to the conspiracy offense listed above.

According to court documents, between July 2010 and April 2013, Ustinov caused or attempted to cause the export of approximately seventeen different night vision devices and thermal imaging scopes, which are designated on the United States Munition List (USML) as defense articles, and are prohibited from export outside the United States. The defense articles at issue, including Insight Mini Thermal Monoculars, D-740 night vision scopes, and Flir Tau 640 thermal imaging cameras, are primarily used as weapons’ mounted or helmet mounted night vision devices, and in the case of the Flir Tau 640s, can even be mounted to fast moving vehicles or aircrafts, such as unmanned aerial vehicles. 

Given the sensitive nature of the defense articles at issue, Ustinov’s scheme was designed to avoid detection by law enforcement at each step in the process.  First, Ustinov worked closely with a United States-based straw purchaser to conceal his involvement at the point of sale.  Second, once a specific defense article was identified for purchase, Ustinov wired money to the straw purchaser to buy the defense article from front companies located in off-shore accounts in Cyprus.  Finally, Ustinov also caused the packages containing USML defense articles to be falsely labeled so that customs officials from the United States and other countries would be less likely to search the package.  Moreover, Ustinov also discussed using less traditional methods to obtain and export these night vision devices outside the United States, such as establishing a phony front company in the United States, and placing these high-tech devices inside chopped up car parts to conceal them from customs officials.  At no time, however, did Ustinov ever apply for or receive a license to export these devices from the U.S. Department of State.  

U.S. Attorney Oberly thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations for their hard work, and stated, “No matter the distance we must travel or the nationality of the defendant, those individuals that want to profit themselves by unlawfully obtaining and exporting items designated by the United States as defense articles will be prosecuted.  It is important that we take all necessary steps to prevent our military technology from being exported and possibly used against our service members and our allies overseas.”

 “HSI will continue to deter individuals putting America's national security at risk by illegally exporting technology to prohibited countries,” said John P. Kelleghan, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia. “Our longstanding commitment with our federal law enforcement partners to stop the illegal export of technology to prohibited countries underscores HSI’s determination to dismantle and disrupt any illegal scheme involving the illegal export of controlled military equipment.”

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.  It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jamie M. McCall and Trial Attorney Mariclaire Rourke of the Counterespionage Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, National Security Division.  For further information, please contact AUSA McCall at 302-573-6079.


Updated October 9, 2014