Aviation News

March 23, 2011

New York Man Charged in Scheme to Export Fighter Jet Engines to Iran

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By: BNO News
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U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday announced that a federal grand jury in Miami has indicted four family members on various counts of illegally attempting to export 22 F-5 fighter jet engines to Iran, a violation of executive orders banning exports to Iran.

Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Northrop F-5

Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Northrop F-5. (Courtesy of sajeed.ir, via wikipedia, published under GDFL)

Charged in the indictment are Felipe Echeverry, age unknown, of Bogota, Colombia, Diego Echeverri, 42, of Elmhurst, New York, Amparo Echeverri Valdes, 53, of Bogota, Colombia, and Carlos Alfredo Pantoja-Coral, 57, of Bogota, Colombia.

The U.S. Iran Embargo prohibits the exportation from the U.S. to Iran of any goods, technology, or services, with limited exceptions, unless authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department. According to the allegations in the five-count indictment and a previously filed complaint affidavit, Felipe Echeverry and three of his relatives conspired to sell 22 aircraft engines for $320,000 to an undercover agent and agreed to help the undercover agent to export the engines from Miami to Iran through Panama.

From January through March 2011, in a series of meetings and conversations, the suspects negotiated the terms of the purported sale, knowing that the ultimate destination of the fighter jet engines was purportedly Iran. Iran produces an aircraft named “Saegeh,” which is compatible with the F-5 fighter engines, which are made by General Electric.

“The sales of arms and other commodities to Iran is illegal. When unscrupulous dealers look the other way and knowingly agree to sell military-use items knowing they are destined for Iran, they not only break our nation’s laws, but also endanger our national security,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer.

If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years per count on Counts 1, 2 and 3, five years on Count 4, and 10 years on Count 5.