U.S. prosecutors announced criminal charges on Tuesday against five Russians and two Americans, disrupting what they described as a network used to obtain military technology and ammunition for Russia’s military.
The group is accused of conspiring to obtain military grade and dual-use technologies from American companies for Russia’s defense industry, and to smuggle ammunition for sniper rifles, in violation of new U.S. sanctions, the Justice Department said in a statement.
The accused were allegedly affiliated with two Moscow-based companies linked to Russian intelligence that were sanctioned following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, according to the 16-count indictment.
The investigation into the scheme was coordinated by Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement initiative launched in March in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We will continue the steady pace of seizures, indictments and arrests, while the Kremlin is shopping for spare parts in North Korea,” Andrew Adams, director of Task Force KleptoCapture, said in a statement.
The five Russian defendants were identified as Yevgeniy Grinin, 44, Aleksey Ippolitov, 57, and Boris Livshits, 52, Svetlana Skvortsova, 41, and Vadim Konoshchenok, 48.
The two American defendants are Alexey Brayman, 35, of New Hampshire and Vadim Yermolenko, 41, of New Jersey.
Yermolenko was arrested in New Jersey, and Brayman surrendered to the FBI earlier on Tuesday.
Konoshchenok was detained by Estonian authorities last week at the request of the United States and is awaiting extradition, the Justice Department said.
The other defendants remain at large.
According to the indictment, the defendants were affiliated with Serniya Engineering and Sertal LLC, both of which operate under the direction of Russian intelligence services to obtain advanced technologies for the country’s military sector.
Serniya, Sertal and several companies suspected in the conspiracy were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Department following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The Department of Justice and our international partners will not tolerate criminal schemes to bolster the Russian military’s war efforts,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement. “With three of the defendants now in custody, we have disrupted the procurement network allegedly used by the defendants and Russian intelligence services to smuggle sniper rifle ammunition and sensitive electronic components into Russia.”
The defendants face charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States related to the enforcement of export controls and economic sanctions; conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA); smuggling; and failure to comply with the Automated Export System relating to the transportation of electronics.
If convicted of bank fraud or bank fraud conspiracy, the defendants face a maximum of 30 years in prison.