A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Vladimir Kuznetsov, a Russian national, with illegally exporting, attempting to export and conspiring to export firearm parts and accessories from the United States to individuals in Russia. Kuznetsov was arrested this morning in Dingsman Ferry, Pennsylvania, and will make his initial appearance this afternoon in Brooklyn before United States Magistrate Judge Sanket J. Bulsara.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York Field Office (HSI), and Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent-in-Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office, (DCIS), announced the charges.
“As alleged in the complaint, Kuznetsov violated laws intended to safeguard our national security” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Today’s arrest demonstrates our resolve to investigate and prosecute those who illegally export restricted items without regard for their end use, placing their own enrichment above our country’s interests.” Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS), for their assistance during the investigation.
“Kuznetsov is alleged to have illegally exported firearm parts to Russia, including parts to assemble rifles, by methodically mislabeling the packages and concealing the parts,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh. “The safety of our nation is paramount in our counter-proliferation cases, and HSI will continue to investigate those who choose to fill their pockets with illicit proceeds by putting the security of our country at risk.”
“Today’s charges are the direct result of a joint effort by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, to protect our national security. The DCIS will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals who attempt to illegally obtain and export restricted defense technology,” stated DCIS Special Agent-in-Charge Barzey.
According to the criminal complaint, from approximately February 2017 to the present, Kuznetsov and others conspired to export and exported from the United States to Russia, firearm parts and other items on the United States Commerce Control List. These items are restricted and cannot be exported from the United States without licenses from the United States Department of State and United States Department of Commerce. Kuznetsov purchased U.S.-origin firearm parts online, including parts used to assemble sniper rifles. He then shipped the firearm parts via the U.S. Postal Service to buyers in Russia. To avoid detection, Kuznetsov provided false descriptions of the items contained in each package, and hid rifle parts inside the packages. For example, in one package seized by CBP in July 2017 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Kuznetsov had packed an H-S Precision rifle stock for a Remington 700 series bolt action rifle beneath a Bosch benchtop router table. The only item listed on the package’s shipping label and customs form was benchtop router table. In April 2018, also at JFK, CBP seized another Kuznetsov outbound package, this one containing a rifle chassis and 5-round ammunition magazines, concealed among a pair of sneakers, jeans, a heating pad and blood pressure monitor. The accompanying USPS customs form omitted the rifle chassis and ammunition magazines.
The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Kuznetsov faces a statutory maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan E. Algor is in charge of the prosecution, assisted by Trial Attorney Scott Claffee of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.
Coney Island, Brooklyn
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-MJ-690