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Press Release

Dual Iranian-American Citizen Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison For Conspiring And Attempting To Acquire Surface-To-Air Missiles And Other Items For The Government Of Iran

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that REZA OLANGIAN, a dual citizen of the United States and Iran, was sentenced today to 25 years in federal prison, after being found guilty in November 2016, of conspiring and attempting to send surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”) and military aircraft parts to the Government of Iran.  OLANGIAN was arrested in Estonia on October 10, 2012, pursuant to a U.S. request for his provisional arrest, and he was extradited to the United States on March 26, 2013.  OLANGIAN was convicted after a two-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska, who imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Reza Olangian was convicted by a unanimous jury for attempting to assist the Iranian government in brokering deals for missiles capable of destroying aircraft from the ground.  Olangian’s actions were in violation of critical international sanctions designed to protect our national security.  Today he was sentenced to 25 years for his efforts to support a designated state-sponsor of terror in obtaining deadly military weapons and other items.”

According to the evidence presented during the trial:

In 2008, OLANGIAN worked with Iranian officials to obtain approximately 375 SAMs for use by the Iranian government.  Ultimately, that missile deal was unsuccessful.

Beginning in early 2012, OLANGIAN worked to negotiate another, separate missile deal, this time with a confidential source (the “CS”), who was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) and who purported to be a weapons and aircraft broker.  From his base of operations in Tehran, and from approximately May 2012 through October 2012, OLANGIAN arranged for the purchase of “IGLA-S” SAMs and various aircraft components.  During covertly recorded meetings in May 2012, and in subsequent recorded conversations and e-mails with the CS, OLANGIAN described in detail his plans for procuring the SAMs and aircraft parts and then smuggling them over land into Iran, from Afghanistan or from another neighboring country.  OLANGIAN also expressed his interest in purchasing numerous other types of weapons and military parts for the Iranian government, including the so-called “S-300” missile defense system and Russian-made naval vessels.

OLANGIAN’s 2012 negotiations included his participation in a videoconference with the CS, during which OLANGIAN remotely inspected a missile that the CS presented as a sample of the larger quantity of the SAMs that OLANGIAN sought to purchase.  After inspecting the sample missile and inquiring about its specifications, OLANGIAN stated that he would want “at least 200 . . . minimum 200” of such SAMs.  In his communications with the CS, OLANGIAN also indicated that he was arranging for a missile expert to inspect and test the SAMs.

At the same time that he was negotiating with the CS, OLANGIAN was also working with other individuals, both inside and outside Iran, to acquire numerous other items for the Iranian government and Iran-based entities.  For example, OLANGIAN worked with individuals and entities in China, Russia, and Europe to acquire commercial aircraft for use by Iranian airlines.  In one of these commercial aircraft deals, OLANGIAN and his coconspirators planned to purchase aircraft for $80 million and sell them to an Iranian company for $110 million.

During October 2012, OLANGIAN traveled to Estonia in connection with the SAMs deal and in anticipation of later traveling to Russia in connection with one of the aircraft deals.  He was arrested in Estonia, and following his arrest, he was interviewed by U.S. law enforcement agents.  OLANGIAN stated, among other things, that he had been working with Iranian government officials, that the SAMs he had arranged to purchase were being obtained for the Iranian government, and that the aircraft parts he attempted to acquire were to be used in Iranian military aircraft.

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In addition to today’s sentence, OLANGIAN, 57, was sentenced to 5 years of supervised release. 

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, Bilateral Investigations Unit.  Mr. Berman also thanked the DEA’s Copenhagen Country Office, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and its National Security Division.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean S. Buckley is in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Robert E. Wallace of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.       

Updated March 14, 2018

Press Release Number: 18-077