One Russian-Tajik national and two Russian-Canadians have been arrested in New York on suspicion of directing a "massive sanctions evasion and export control scheme," the U.S. Attorney's Office reported on Oct. 31.
The three allegedly circumvented sanctions to export dual-use electronic components, semi-conductors, and circuits to Russia, where they had a "critical role" in producing advanced weapons systems, the U.S. Department of Commerce said.
Over the course of a year, they sent over 300 shipments of components worth in total around $10 million "to the Russian battlefield," said Ivan J. Arvelo, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations in New York.
Investigators believe the suspects used front companies based in New York City to buy the electronic components from U.S. manufacturers and ship them.
Some components with same make, model, and part number as those shipped by the front companies "have been found in seized Russian weapons platforms and signals intelligence equipment in Ukraine," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
These include Ka-52 helicopters, Orlan-10 reconnaissance drones, Izdeliye 305E guided missiles, and T-72B3 battle tanks.
One of the suspects, Salimdzhon Nasriddinov, is "a Brooklyn resident and dual citizen of Russia and Tajikistan," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
He was arrested in Brooklyn on Oct. 31, along with Nikolay Goltsev and Kristina Puzyreva, two Russian-Canadian nationals who were visiting Nasriddinov.
Investigators believe that Puzyreva was in charge of the scheme's finances.
Goltsev's role was act as the intermediary between U.S. manufacturers and contacts in the Russian defense and technology sectors, who needed a particular component.
Together with Nasriddinov, he would buy the components and ship the items to Russia via "intermediary corporations located in other countries, including Turkey, Hong Kong, India, China and the United Arab Emirates."
There is evidence that the three "were aware that the electronics being exported had potential military applications," U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Nasriddinov sent a message to Goltsev on February 23, 2023, which congratulated him on the Russian military holiday Defender of the Fatherland Day.
"Happy holiday to you too my friend, we are defending it in the way that we can," Goltsev replied.
The arrests signal the disruption of "a sophisticated procurement network," said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.