The United States has charged 11 people with illegally exporting U.S. microelectronics to Russia for use by the military and intelligence agencies.
Seven suspects were arrested Wednesday in the Houston area, including Alexander Fishenko, a naturalized American citizen born in Russia. He also is accused of acting on behalf of the Russian government without registering as a foreign agent.
Another suspect, Alexander Posobilov, also a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested Tuesday night at George Bush International Airport in Houston. Authorities say he was headed to Singapore and Moscow.
Three other people allegedly involved in the procurement ring are believed to be at large in Russia.
Fishenko allegedly used his Houston-based business Arc Electronics Inc. to export items that are supposed to be under strict government control because of their potential military use in radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems and detonation triggers.
Prosecutors say Fishenko also is a part owner of Moscow-based Apex System LLC, which is a certified supplier of military equipment to the Russians.
Both Arc and Apex are charged with illegal activity along with the 11 individuals in an indictment unsealed Wednesday.
Prosecutors allege Fishenko and the other defendants hid the fact they were exporters and pretended Arc Electronics produced mundane items such as traffic lights.
According to court documents, the participants in the alleged scheme told other Russian procurement companies to hide the materials they were receiving from Arc. Fishenko allegedly told one company, "Make it up pretty, correctly and make sure it looks good."
Posobilov allegedly told a business to alter a certificate about the end use of a shipment to indicate the materials were for "fishing boats, and not fishing/anti-submarine ones."
Prosecutors say Arc has exported approximately $50 million worth of microelectronics and other technology to Russia since 2002. It is not clear how much of that was illegal, but court documents said the illegal activity began in late 2008.
The eight suspects arrested in the Houston area were scheduled to have court appearances Wednesday.