One of three men who conspired to illegally ship highly specialized vacuum pump equipment with nuclear applications from the United States to Iran was deported Friday, January 4, 2013, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Amirhossein Sairafi, 44, was released from federal prison Thursday, January 3, 2013, and immediately deported from Chicago via commercial flight, arriving Jan. 4 in Tehran, Iran.
Sairafi is one of three co-defendants who conspired to ship items from the United States to Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and U.S. sanctions imposed on that country. Sairafi pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to conspiring to defraud the United States, money laundering and violating the IEEPA. He was sentenced March 7, 2011, to 41 months in federal prison. He was released from the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institute in Indiana Jan. 3 and taken into ICE custody.
According to federal court documents, co-defendant Jiraiir Avanessian owned and operated XVAC, a company located in Glendale, Calif. Avanessian corresponded with co-defendants Farhad Masoumian and Sairafi via email for at least two years to arrange the illegal export of expensive vacuum pumps and related equipment to Iran through a free-trade zone in the United Arab Emirates. As part of the conspiracy, Sairafi re-labeled the shipments to mask their true contents and avoid interception by U.S. customs officials.
The vacuum pumps and related devices at issue in this case can potentially be used to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel.
Sairafi was arrested in January 2010 by German authorities and subsequently extradited to the United States to face prosecution.
“This individual’s criminal conviction and resulting deportation underscore ICE’s commitment to promoting public safety and national security,” said Ricardo Wong, field office director for ERO Chicago.
The criminal case against Sairafi was investigated by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.
One of ICE’s highest priorities is to prevent illicit procurement networks, terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products, sensitive technology, weapons of mass destruction, or chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials. HSI’s Counter-Proliferation Investigations Program oversees a broad range of investigative activities related to such violations. It enforces U.S. laws involving the export of military items and controlled dual-use goods, as well as exports to sanctioned or embargoed countries.