An indictment unsealed Wednesday in the Middle District of Pennsylvania charged three people and an alleged front business with conspiring to illegally export laboratory equipment to Syria, including items used to detect chemical warfare agents (CWAs).
British national Ahmed Feras Diri is accused of conspiring with Moawea Deri of Syria to transfer items used to detect CWAs to customers in Syria through third countries using their company d-Deri Contracting and Trade. "The defendants would ship and export goods from the United States to Syria, by shipping and transshipping goods to third party countries while providing false and misleading invoices that undervalued and mislabeled the goods and services and listing false purchasers and end-users of the goods," the indictment said.
The men did not have an export license or authorization from the Commerce Department, which violates a federal law prohibiting the export of U.S. goods and technology to Syria, other than food and medicine. The law was put in place a decade ago to close the supply chain used by Syria to sponsor terrorism, as well as limit its capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.
The charges included criminal conspiracy, wire fraud, illegal export of goods, money laundering, and false statements. Harold Rinko of Hallstead, Penn., also charged in the indictment. His business, Global Parts Supply, allegedly served as a "front" to bypass U.S. sanctions and cover up the conspiracy.
Ahmed Diri is in police custody in Britain and faces extradition to the U.S. in connection with the charges. Prosecutors have sought a plea agreement with Rinko that is awaiting court approval.