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Press Release

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Dual U.S.-Iran Citizen For Conspiring To Acquire Surface-To-Air Missiles For The Government Of Iran

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Reza Olangian Allegedly Worked In Tehran With Iranian Government Officials To Acquire Large Quantities Of Missiles And Military Aircraft Parts

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Derek Maltz, the Special Operations Division Agent in-Charge of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), today announced the unsealing of charges against REZA OLANGIAN, a dual citizen of the United States and Iran, in connection with his efforts to acquire surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”) for 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. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, after having been thwarted in his first attempt, Reza Olangian seized on a second opportunity to help arm the Iranian military with surface-to-air missiles and airline parts in violation of international trade sanctions and other laws. Thanks to the outstanding work of our law enforcement partners, Olangian struck out on his second attempt and he will now answer for his alleged willingness to jeopardize this country’s national security.”

DEA Special Operations Division Agent in-Charge Derek Maltz said: “Mr. Olangian’s conspiracy could have put American lives at risk, as well as those of our friends across the globe, if put into action. DEA possesses the unique ability to direct complex undercover operations thanks to our intelligence capabilities, close partnerships, and vast informant network around the world. These tools have allowed us to infiltrate global criminal networks that threaten America's security.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment, the Amended Complaint, and other documents filed in Manhattan federal court:

In 2007, OLANGIAN worked with Iranian officials to obtain approximately 100 SAMs for use by the Iranian government. Ultimately, that missile deal was unsuccessful.

Beginning in early 2012, OLANGIAN worked to negotiate a separate missile deal, this time with a confidential source working with the DEA (the “CS”), who purported to be a weapons and aircraft broker. From his base of operations in Tehran from approximately May 2012 through October 2012, OLANGIAN arranged for the purchase of “IGLA-S” SAMs and various aircraft components. During a covertly recorded meeting in May 2012, and in subsequent recorded conversations and e-mails with the CS, he 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’s 2012 negotiations included his participation in a videoconference with the CS, during which OLANGIAN remotely inspected a bona fide SAM, which the CS presented as a sample of the larger quantity of SAMs that OLANGIAN sought to purchase. After inspecting the SAM 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.

During October of 2012, OLANGIAN traveled to Estonia, where he was arrested. Following his arrest, 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.

The Indictment charges OLANGIAN in four Counts. Counts One and Two charge him with conspiring to acquire and transfer surface-to-air missile systems and attempting to acquire and transfer surface-to-air missile systems. Counts Three and Four charge him with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”) and attempting to violate IEEPA.

If convicted, OLANGIAN faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on each of Counts One and Two, including a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison on each count. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each of Counts Three and Four.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of the Special Operations Division of the DEA and the DEA Copenhagen Country Office. Mr. Bharara also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and its National Security Division.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Sean Buckley and Shane Stansbury are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment and the Amended Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. v. Reza Olangian Indictment (12 Cr 798)
U.S. v. Reza Olangian Amended Complaint (12 Mag 2553)

Updated May 18, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-320