US Prosecutors say a New Jersey woman was involved in an international ring that smuggled more than $2 million worth of aircraft components from the United States to Iran in violation of export control laws.
According to a statement from the US Department of Justice:
A Morristown, New Jersey, woman appeared in federal court today to face charges for her alleged role in an international procurement network that smuggled over $2 million worth of aircraft components from the United States to Iran in violation of export control laws, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Joyce Eliabachus, a/k/a “Joyce Marie Gundran Manangan,” 55, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the Philippines, was arrested at her home on April 24, 2018, following a joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement.
Eliabachus is charged in a three-count criminal complaint with conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR), conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to smuggle goods from the United States. She made her initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk in Newark federal court and was released on $100,000 unsecured bond with home confinement.
According to the complaint:
Eliabachus – the principal officer and operator of Edsun Equipments LLC, a purported New Jersey-based aviation parts trading company run out of her Morristown residence – is allegedly part of a sophisticated procurement network that has secretly acquired large quantities of license-controlled aircraft components from U.S. manufacturers and vendors, and exported those parts to Iran through freight-forwarding companies located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey, in violation of U.S. export control laws.
From May 2015 through October 2017, Eliabachus and her conspirators facilitated at least 49 shipments containing a total of approximately 23,554 license-controlled aircraft parts from the U.S. to Iran, all of which were exported without the required licenses.
Eliabachus conspired with the owner of an Iranian-based procurement firm, identified in the complaint as “CC-1,” whose international network helped initiate the purchase of U.S.-origin aircraft components on behalf of CC-1’s clients in Iran. The network’s client list was comprised of Iranian airline companies, several of which have been officially designated by the U.S. government as posing a threat to the country’s national security, foreign policy, or economic interests, including Mahan Air Co., Caspian Airlines, and Kish Air, among others.
Using Edsun Equipment in New Jersey, Eliabachus finalized the purchase and acquisition of the requested components from the various U.S.-based distributors. She then re-packaged and shipped the components to shipping companies in the UAE and Turkey, including Parthia Cargo and Reibel Tasimacilik Ve Tic A.S., where her Iranian conspirators directed trans-shipment of the components to locations in Iran.
In order to obscure the extent of the network’s procurement activities, Eliabachus routinely falsified the true destination and end-user of the aircraft components she acquired. She also falsified the true value of the components being exported in order to evade the necessity of filing export control forms, which further obscured the network’s illegal activities from law enforcement.
The funds for the illicit transactions were obtained from the various Iranian purchasers, funneled through Turkish bank accounts held in the names of various shell companies controlled by the Iranian conspirators, and ultimately transferred into one of Edsun Equipments’ U.S.-based accounts. The network’s creation and use of multiple bank accounts and shell companies abroad was intended to conceal the true sources of funds in Iran, as well as the identities of the various Iranian entities who were receiving U.S. aircraft components.
“Eliabachus and others allegedly ran an international smuggling ring that shipped $2 million in aircraft parts to multiple Iranian airlines, including an airline that has provided financial, material, and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “This arrest, which was made possible by a close collaboration between our office and its partners at Homeland Security Investigations and the Office of Export Enforcement, has snuffed out another source of funds and goods to overseas entities that may endanger our national and economic security.”
“Today’s action is the result of outstanding collaborative efforts by the Office of Export Enforcement, the Justice Department, and Homeland Security Investigations,” Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Carson of the Office of Export Enforcement said. “This arrest will cut-off a key supplier to a proliferation network which illegally sold U.S. origin items to Iran. Violations such as these jeopardize national security and undermine U.S. foreign policy. We will continue to vigorously pursue violators wherever they may be.”
“HSI is committed to leveraging its broad jurisdiction to prevent the illegal exportation of controlled items,” said Brian Michael, Acting Special Agent in Charge for HSI Newark. “This investigation is a culmination of an extensive joint law enforcement effort to dismantle a criminal enterprise. HSI will continue to pursue complex criminal investigations while using our unique statutory authorities to prevent smuggling operations like this that threaten national security.”
The charge of conspiracy to violate the ITSR carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The charge of conspiracy to smuggle goods carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael in Newark, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carson in New York, with the investigation. He also thanked officers of the Morristown Police Department, under the direction of Chief Peter Demnitz, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dennis C. Carletta of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit and Sarah Devlin of the office’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit, with assistance from the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section.
Defense counsel: John Yauch Esq., Federal Public Defender, Newark
(Source: US Dept of Justice)