FBI Arrests Five in Alleged Plot to Smuggle Arms to Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two Filipino businessmen, an Iranian national, a Navy enlisted man and a Navy civilian employee have been arrested in connection with a plot to smuggle stolen military aircraft parts to Iran, the FBI said Monday.
Bureau Director William H. Webster said in a statement that early this year the U.S. Customs Service sought FBI assistance in an investigation of the interstate transportation of stolen U.S. government property and its subsequent shipment to Iran by way of London.
Subsequently, a joint investigation was launched by the FBI, along with the Naval Investigative Service, the IRS and U.S. Customs and British Customs, he said.
Webster said customs authorities ″had learned that the aircraft parts were being shipped under the guise of automobile parts or medical supplies. These parts could be used to replace defective parts on F-14 jets being flown by the Iranian air force.″
Webster said the FBI investigation was continuing and ″will include interviews of active duty and retired U.S. Navy personnel.″
Three of the five suspects were arrested by FBI agents in San Diego, Calif., on Friday.
One was identified by the bureau as Franklin Pangilinan Agustin, a Filipino businessman. Two others were identified as Primitivo Baluyat Cayabyab, the Navy enlisted man, and Pedro Manansala Quito, the Navy civilian employee.
Cayabyab, an enlisted Navy seaman aviation storekeeper, was taken into custody from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, based at San Diego, the FBI said.
Also arrested in New York Friday, the bureau said, was Edgardo Pangilinan Agustin, a Filipino businessman who is retired from the U.S. Navy and is a brother of Franklin Pangilinan Agustin.
The FBI said Franklin Pangilinan Agustin and the unidentified Iranian national were doing business in San Diego.
Pedro Manansala Quito has been a civilian warehouse worker at the Navy’s North Island Supply Department, Fleet Avionics Logistics Support Center, in San Diego, the bureau said.
It said British customs arrested a fifth person - an Iranian national - in London last Thursday. But the bureau declined to identify this person.
Webster noted in his announcement that according to British authorities, their law precludes the release to the public or press of the names of people who have been arrested.
Webster said all five people arrested in the United States and Britain in connection with the alleged smuggling of military aircraft parts to Iran were charged in a federal complaint with violating a federal statute prohibiting the interstate transportation of stolen property. Conviction on this charge provides maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The five also were charged in the complaint with theft of government property, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years and a $10,000 fine, and with violating the U.S. Arms Exports and Imports Act, which carries a maximum $100,000 fine and two years in prison.