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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

South Florida Resident Arrested For Attempting to Illegally Export Controlled Items to Libya

MIAMI - Peter Sotis, 55, of Delray Beach, Florida, was arrested yesterday based on an indictment charging him with conspiracy to violate and attempted violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), as well as smuggling of goods.

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Robert Luzzi, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement (DOC) Miami Field Office; and Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations’ (ICE-HSI) Miami Field Office, made the announcement. 

The indictment alleges Sotis was the owner and principal of Add Helium, a Fort Lauderdale diving company. Sotis was charged with smuggling, conspiracy to violate and attempted violation of the IEEPA and the EAR by transferring dual-use goods, that is, articles that have both civilian and military application, for export to Libya without the required Department of Commerce license.

In particular, court documents indicated that Sotis and a co-defendant at Add Helium transferred four rebreathers, which were controlled under the EAR for national security reasons, to a shipping company for export to Libya after being informed by a Commerce agent that the items could not be exported while a license determination was pending.  A rebreather is an apparatus that absorbs the carbon dioxide of a scuba diver's exhaled breath to permit the rebreathing (recycling) of each breath. This technology produces no bubbles, thereby concealing the diver’s activities from those on the surface, and allowing a diver to stay underwater longer compared with normal diving equipment.

Sotis had his initial appearance on the charges today before U.S. Magistrate Judge John J. O'Sullivan (Case No. 19cr20693).  He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges on Nov. 13, 2019 at 10 a.m. in Miami.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan and Assistant Attorney General Demers commended the investigative efforts of the DOC and HSI.  They thanked the FBI’s Miami Field Office and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their assistance.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Thakur of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Thea D. R. Kendler of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated October 30, 2019