Iranian pleads guilty to illegal arms export scheme
The U.S. government said Wednesday that Iranian national Abbas Tavakolian pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to illegally export jet fighter components to Iran in 2004.
In specific, Tavakolian sought to export gunnery systems components for F-4 and F-15 fighter jets.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Tavakolian met with undercover agents in Europe to obtain a jet fighter gattling gun component on June 2, 2004. He agreed to buy the components and began to send undercover agents payments.
Tavakolian subsequently agreed to meet with undercover agents in the South Pacific to acquire the items for shipment to Iran for a total cost of about $380,000. Tavakolian agreed to deliver 25 percent of the cost when he took delivery of the items.
On Dec. 10, Tavakolian arrived in the South Pacific from Iran. He subsequently met with undercover agents and examined the gattling gun component and other State Department controlled munitions items.
“Satisfied that the items were in order, Tavakolian directed ICE agents to fill out paperwork for DHL delivery services for the shipment of the items to Tehran,” ICE said. “He also directed the undercover ICE agents to label the items as agricultural equipment in order to disguise the true nature of the items.”
Tavakolian then paid undercover agents $100,000 in U.S. currency and compensated them for the DHL shipping costs. Tavakolian was present when a DHL representative took custody of the items. ICE agents subsequently intercepted and took custody of the items.
On Dec. 11, Tavakolian was arrested by ICE and Defense Criminal Investigative Service agents and taken into federal custody after another meeting with undercover agents in which he sought to buy several complete F-14 fighter jets for future shipment to Iran.