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10 Aeroflot employees charged over $50 million in smuggled goods

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What you need to know

  • 10 former and current employees of Russian airline Aeroflot have been charged over smuggling.
  • The scheme saw $50 million worth of electronic goods shipped from the U.S. to Russia.
  • Devices included Apple iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches.

10 Aeroflot employees (former and current) have been charged over a scheme that saw $50 million worth of stolen electronic smuggled from the U.S. to Russia

From Business Insider:

The US has announced charges against 10 people in connection to a plot that it says used current and former Aeroflot Airlines crew members to smuggle $50 million worth of stolen electronics to Russia. The State Department has revoked 113 visas of Aeroflot employees in connection with the allegations.

An investigation by the FBI, US customs, and the NYPD, as well as other agencies, has resulted in 10 defendants being charged with smuggling stolen electronics worth a total of $50 million into Russia from the U.S. According to the report, the devices included Apple iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. A further 113 visas of Aeroflot employees have been revoked in connection with the allegations.

The Department of Justice stated "As alleged, the defendants were members of an international smuggling ring that used a network of operators here and in Russia to circumvent US export laws and regulations." An inspection of crew luggage reportedly uncovered "millions of dollars worth" of electronic devices, many of which were said to have been stolen. From the DOJ:

As set forth in the government's court filings, the defendants allegedly engaged in a scheme to export over $50 million worth of electronic devices, including Apple iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches, from the United States to Russia. The defendants allegedly carried out this scheme by smuggling cash and merchandise via airline passengers, including current and former Aeroflot Airlines employees. Upon receiving instructions from defendant Daibagya, a resident of Russia, Aeroflot Airlines crew members and others travelled to the United States to pick up the electronic devices. Defendants Asadov, Sokhonchuk, Perevoznikov and Shadkhin, together with others in the United States, had obtained the devices, many of which had been stolen, to be sent to Russia without the required export authorizations. During the investigation, searches of luggage belonging to various Aeroflot crew members and other couriers revealed millions of dollars of electronic devices. Occasionally, defendants Daibagya and Saidov smuggled the devices themselves. For example, between August 2019 and December 2019, Daibagya took four trips from the United States transporting over 1,000 Apple products valued at over $1 million, and on October 5, 2019, Saidov carried nine suitcases containing 235 Apple products with an estimated value of about $250,000.

All but one of the defendants were resident in New York.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.