Archive for the ‘Arms Export’ Category


Jan

8

Hellfire in Cuba; Brimstone at DDTC


Posted by at 9:04 am on January 8, 2016
Category: Arms ExportCuba SanctionsDDTC

Sailor lower [sic] a Hellfire missile into it's case by Official U.S. Navy Page via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/dpaBVh [Public Domain - Work of U.S. Government]Oops. Somebody accidentally sent a Hellfire missile to Cuba, and Cuba doesn’t want to give it back. According to an article (subscription required) in the Wall Street Journal, a Hellfire missile that was legally exported by Lockheed Martin to Rota, Spain for NATO exercises, got sent by a freight forwarder (or spy or crook) to Cuba after the exercises were over instead of back to Lockheed Martin in Florida where it was supposed to go. Apparently the freight forwarder in Madrid, which was supposed to put the missile on a truck headed to Frankfurt where the missile would catch a flight back to Florida put the missile on a truck headed to Charles de Gaulle outside Paris where Air France obligingly put the missile on a flight to Cuba. And now there’s hellfire to pay.

A State Department official interviewed by the Journal said that “many” of the 1500 voluntary disclosures filed each year involved mis-shipments, although the precise number is not tracked. The official added:

Mis-shipments happen all the time because of the amount and volume of the defense trade.

The kicker in all this, however, is this:

If it turns out that the Hellfire was lost because of human error, the criminal probe would end and the State Department would have to determine whether to pursue a settlement with Lockheed Martin over the incident.

This is, of course, completely ridiculous. Granted that there is strict liability by the exporter for export violations, that does not mean (in any rational universe outside DC) that Lockheed has committed a violation in the first place if someone other than Lockheed, for whatever reason and without the fault of knowledge of Lockheed, put the defense article on the wrong flight. And particularly where this was done by Air France, no less, which regularly sends ordinary baggage bound for one place to Tahiti or some other distant former French colony. And let me remind DDTC that this item would have gone out under a DSP-73 on which every single freight forwarder and intermediate consignee who touched the missile was disclosed to and approved by DDTC. Maybe DDTC should be fined for approving the freight forwarder or intermediate consignee responsible for this screw-up.

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Dec

22

An Indictment That Doesn’t Add Up


Posted by at 9:23 pm on December 22, 2015
Category: Arms ExportCriminal PenaltiesDDTC

M16 Disconnecter via http://www.brownells.com/rifle-parts/triggers-parts/disconnector-parts/disconnectors/m16-disconnectors-prod41727.aspx [Fair Use]The recent indictment of Brian Thomas Platt, a federally-registered firearms manufacturer, makes me wonder whether there is so little crime in Maryland that prosecutors have the time to indict an individual for exporting a handful of rifle parts without a license, particularly where at least one of the exports arguably qualified for the license exemption for exports of firearms parts with a wholesale value less than $100.  Worse the indictment doesn’t even allege the required element of scienter in an Arms Export Control Act prosecution, namely that the defendant knew that the exports were in violation of law.    The absence of a scienter allegation is significant given that the case is likely to turn on the wholesale value of the parts exported, another crucial fact left out of the oddly and amateurishly drafted indictment.

Three exports are at issue.  The second involved M-16 parts: three selectors, disconnectors, auto sear assemblies and hammers.  The Brownells site gives the retail value of the items as $32.37 for the selectors, $17.97 for the disconnectors (pictured above), $29.97 for the sear assemblies and $66.90 for the hammers. That’s $147.21 retail. It is not unreasonable to assume that the wholesale price of these items is under $100, and the exemption in section 123.17(a) of the ITAR is for exports where the wholesale price is $100 or less.

The remaining exports include one rifle barrel (which is not covered by the exemption in section 123.17) and another export of two Uzi tops and a trigger assembly, also with an apparent value that may well be under the $100 limit. And, of course, the indictment doesn’t bother to allege the value of the shipments or that Platt knew that the parts exceeded the $100 value or that he knew that the exports were illegal. Indeed, given that licenses probably could have been easily obtained for these parts, given the low value (and profits involved) for these parts, and given Platt’s status as a licensed firearm manufacturers, it seems highly unlikely that he knew these exports were illegal.

This appears to be a classic case for a civil penalty. No knowledge or scienter is required for a civil penalty. If Platt was mistaken about the value of the parts, he could still suffer a significant fine. Here, however, for a handful of cheap rifle parts that may or may not have required a license, the prosecutors want to send Platt to jail for 60 years and, in the now inevitable forfeiture allegations, take away his house too. What a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money and prosecutorial resources.

 

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Apr

27

Heat, Don’t Leave Home Without It


Posted by at 10:07 pm on April 27, 2015
Category: Arms ExportCustomsDDTC

Airport Firearms Declaration by Nick Holland [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/nic1/2569359725 [cropped]Customs and Border Protection has decided that it needs to make it easier for you to travel abroad with a gun, at least assuming that you aren’t planning to use it to create any harm or to give it to a nefarious overseas organization. So they have announced that they will help travelers with firearms fill out CBP Form 4457 “to ensure that no traveler attempting to legally take their firearm out of the country experiences significant delays.” Form 4457 is a registration of exported goods designed to permit them to be returned to the United States without payment of duties or complying other regulatory requirements.
righ
And CBP is so concerned about the difficulties of packing heat in your luggage that they’ve even taken a swipe at the Automated Export System and the State Department requirement for filing an EEI through AES before taking lugging a Lugar abroad.

Additionally, CBP is working with our other government partners to modify the AES system and the reporting process to make a more user-friendly experience for individual travelers.

I certainly agree that the AES should be made more user-friendly; I’m just not so sure that it needs to be made more friendly just for people traveling with their weapons.

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Apr

21

Texas Judge Indicted For Illegal Firearm Exports


Posted by at 10:38 pm on April 21, 2015
Category: Arms ExportCriminal PenaltiesDDTC

Judge Tim Wright [Credit: Williamson County][Fair Use]
ABOVE: Judge Tim Wright


Well, it is probably safe to say that not many (if any) judges have been indicted on allegations of illegally exporting firearms. But that’s what happened to Judge Tim Wright, a judge in Williamson County, Texas, who was charged with various firearm charges, including illegal exports of firearms. There are few details in the indictment beyond alleging that Judge Williams, which the indictment rather oddly insists on calling “Timothy L. Wright, III, aka ‘The Judge,'” sold guns to a person without an export license knowing that the guns were intended for export.

This is a strangely odd locution: it alleges that Judge Wright knew that the guns were for export but does not allege that the Judge knew that the purchaser did not have an export license or that the Judge knew that his sale or the export were illegal. This probably explains why Judge Wright was charged under the Anti-Smuggling Statute, 18 U.S.C. § 554, and not under the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2278. There is well-established precedent under the Arms Export Control Act that a conviction can only be had if the defendant knew that his export was in violation of law. On the other hand, it appears hat prosecutors believe, as I have said previously, that they can establish a criminal violation of 18 U.S.C. § 554 simply by proving the defendant knew that the item was to be exported without any requirement that they prove he knew that the export was illegal.

Whether a court will send someone to jail on such a flimsy showing of criminal intent remains to be seen.

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Mar

30

Brotherly Love Only Goes So Far


Posted by at 1:15 pm on March 30, 2015
Category: Arms ExportCriminal Penalties

Ariel Maralit[Fair Use]I’ll admit it and apologize in advance.  The main reason for this story and for this link to Britain’s worst newspaper is so that I can run the picture of Ariel Maralit. Ariel, the guy in the photo on the right brandishing the weapons and wearing the moronic grin, is the brother of former NYPD officer Rex Maralit and former U.S. customs agent Wilfredo Maralit.  Both former law enforcement brothers have now pleaded guilty to violations of the Arms Export Control Act in connection with a little business they ran with brother Ariel in the Philippines.   Seems Ariel would take orders from customers in the Philippines for AR-15s, semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles and would then send these orders on to brothers Rex and Wilfredo in the United States.  The brothers would use their law enforcement discounts to buy the weapons cheaply and then pack them up and ship them to Ariel for a tidy profit.  Rex is quoted as saying he just thought he was “avoiding red tape.”   Wilfredo’s lawyer said he was just in it for the money.

And now for the best part.  Rex and Wilfredo

were told they would receive a lighter sentence if they could convince their brother Ariel to come to the United States and face charges, but the brothers were unsuccessful.

Allegedly Ariel replied to his brothers’ pleas to give himself up by sending them a recording of “Baretta’s Theme.”  You remember: “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Okay, I made up this last part about sending the song, but once you start linking to the Daily Mail, it’s hard not to follow their example.

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(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)