Thai National Indicted For International Arms Trafficking And Witness Tampering
Defendant Allegedly Recruited Young Thai Women, including Au Pairs and a University of Maryland Student, to Ship Gun Parts to Thailand
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact ELIZABETH MORSE
www.justice.gov/usao/md at (410) 209-4885
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has indicted Thai national, Apichart Srivaranon, age 32, of Patumthanee Province, Thailand, on charges related to a conspiracy, between 2012 and 2016, to unlawfully export arms and munitions from the United States to Thailand and witness tampering. The indictment was returned on November 9, 2016, and was unsealed on January 23, 2018, upon the arrest of Srivaranon in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Ashan M. Benedict Special Agent in Charge for New York Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF.)
The case against Srivaranon is assigned to U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel of the District of Maryland.
According to the five-count indictment, Srivaranon obtained firearm parts in the United States that are and were listed on the United States Munitions List and exported them to Thailand without having first obtained the required license or written authorization from the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, an office in the United States Department of State.
In furtherance of the conspiracy, Srivaranon purchased firearms parts online from United States gun manufacturers. These firearms parts included key components for AR-15 and M-16 military-style assault rifles. Srivaranon then had the firearms parts sent to addresses in the United States where his co-conspirators lived, visited, or conducted business, including Ohio, New York, Maryland and Nevada. Srivaranon recruited his co-conspirators, often Thai women who were living in the United States for the first time as au pairs and, in one instance, a University of Maryland college student, through social media. Upon receipt of the munitions, Srivaranon directed his co-conspirators to repackage the parts and falsely label United States Postal Service (USPS) Customs forms. Srivaranon also directed his co-conspirators to falsely declare the contents of these packages upon shipment, listing the contents as spare parts, bicycle parts, fishing parts, or toy parts, and then ship them to Thailand via the USPS and private shipping companies. To avoid detection, Srivaranon instructed his co-conspirators to alternate the frequency and addresses of shipments, as well as the estimated value of the contents of the shipments.
In addition, following the detection of one of Srivaranon’s co-conspirators, an au pair in New York, the co-conspirator advised Srivaranon that the ATF was investigating their conduct. Srivaranon responded and advised this co-conspirator to tell the ATF that she had never sent any firearms “barrels” to Thailand. Srivaranon also contacted the Chief Operating Officer of an American firearms manufacturer with which Srivaranon had previously placed multiple firearms parts orders, and asked that the Chief Operating Officer delete Srivaranon’s order history from the manufacturer’s database.
Srivaranon is charged with: (1) conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act (“AECA”), 22 U.S.C. § 2778, and 18 U.S.C. § 554, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; (2) three substantive AECA violations for attempts to export firearms parts to Thailand in September 2013 and October 2013; and (3) tampering with a witness, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3). Srivaranon faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy; and a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison for unlawfully attempting to export arms and munitions and witness tampering. An initial appearance has been scheduled for today at 11:45 a.m. in the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
The Justice Department’s National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) have both provided significant assistance in this matter. The Department also thanks Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation for providing valuable assistance with the investigation and prosecution of the case.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended ICE-HSI, the ATF and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phil Selden and Bryan Foreman who are prosecuting the case.