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Press Release

Argentinian National Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Smuggle Night-Vision Rifle Scope Out of U.S.

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Sergio Ruchtein, 51, a citizen of Argentina, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Savage to the federal felony of attempting to export a defense article without a license.

At the plea hearing, the defendant admitted that in early 2019 he purchased online a Pulsar Trail XP 50 LRF Thermal Rifle Scope and attempted to smuggle the device back to his native Argentina.  The rifle scope is designed to be mounted to a weapon and is capable of human-size detection at night from several hundred meters.   This night vision scope is a defense article on the United States Munitions List and subject to the Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations.  Accordingly, an export license is required before it is shipped or transported out of the United States.

“For good reasons, the United States monitors and regulates specialized arms equipment being exported from this country,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain.  “In this case, a rifle scope designed to detect human beings under cover of darkness could pose a serious risk if it were to fall into the wrong hands.  I want to thank our federal law enforcement partners for their quick work in investigating this case.”

“HSI prioritizes investigations of smugglers who circumvent laws in place to guard against the export of sensitive technologies and licensable commodities from the United States,” said Marlon Miller, Special Agent in Charge, HSI Philadelphia. “While the defendant attempted to export a night vision rifle scope to South America, there is no telling where or to whom this sensitive technology was ultimately destined.”

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Josh A. Davison.


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Updated June 19, 2019

National Security