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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Estonian National Charged with Helping Russian Military Acquire U.S. Electronics, Including Radar Components; Sought-Computer Hacking Software

Shevlyakov’s communications with Russia-based customers included explicit discussions of whether there were “military” goods in certain orders.

An eighteen-count indictment was unsealed today in Brooklyn charging Andrey Shevlyakov, an Estonian national, with conspiracy and other charges related to procuring U.S.-made electronics on behalf of the Russian government and military.

Shevlyakov was arrested on March 28, 2023 in Estonia.  As alleged in the indictment and other court filings, at the time of his arrest, the Estonian seized inbound shipments addressed to Shevlyakov’s front companies, including one that contained approximately 130 kilograms (286 pounds) of radio equipment.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, James Smith, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Houston and Trey McClish, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security – Office of Export Enforcement’s Dallas Field Office announced the charges.

“As alleged, for more than a decade, the defendant has been acquiring sensitive electronics from U.S. manufacturers on behalf of the Russian government, in defiance of U.S. export controls,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “Our Office will not relent in its efforts to stop those who unlawfully procure U.S. technology for Russia or any other sanctioned countries, entities or individuals.”

Mr. Peace expressed his appreciation for Task Force KleptoCapture, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, and the Estonian Internal Security Service (KAPO) for their valuable assistance.

“For years, Mr. Shevlyakov’s elaborate web of deceit allowed him to allegedly procure sensitive American-made electronics on behalf of the Russian military,” said FBI Houston Special Agent in Charge James Smith. “His illegal acquisitions of sophisticated U.S. technology endangered citizens in both Ukraine and the United States. FBI Houston will continue to work with our valued international partners, especially the Estonian Internal Security Service (KAPO), to investigate and disrupt actors who illicitly support the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russian armed forces.”

“As these actions have proven, BIS will continue to hunt down and bring to justice those who harm our national security and illicitly supply the Russian regime,” said Special Agent in Charge McClish.

As alleged in the indictment and other court filings, Shevlyakov procured sensitive electronics from U.S. manufacturers on behalf of Russian end-users, including defense contractors and other Russian government agencies.  Most of these items would have been unavailable to Russian end-users if ordered directly for shipment to Russia.

The items that Shevlyakov purchased included low-noise pre-scalers and synthesizers (used to conduct high-frequency communications) and analog-to-digital converters, which can be found in most defense systems that must respond to environmental conditions, including software-defined radio, avionics, missiles, and electronic warfare systems.  Shevlyakov’s communications with Russia-based customers included explicit discussions of whether there were “military” goods in certain orders.

Shevlyakov also attempted to acquire computer hacking tools.  In May 2020, one of Shevlyakov’s front companies exchanged messages with a Russia-based individual about acquiring a licensed copy of Metasploit Pro, a U.S.-made software tool that is used to penetrate computer networks.  Metasploit is intended for use in assessing network vulnerabilities, but is also widely used by computer hackers.  A license to use Metasploit Pro costs approximately $15,000.  In the email, the individual asked Shevlyakov’s front company to acquire Metasploit and detailed a history of prior failed attempts to acquire the software through third parties in countries outside Russia.  The individual added that the software was “dual use” and that accordingly, “sales to Russia are virtually impossible.”  Thus, the individual said, “we cannot reveal the end user, nor can we identify ourselves.”  On or about June 1, 2020, the front company email address wrote back, listing prices for different versions of Metasploit Pro.

To deliver his goods, Shevlyakov ran an intricate logistics operation involving frequent smuggling trips across the Russian border by himself and others.  Shevlyakov engaged in this conduct despite being listed on a Department of Commerce-maintained list (the “Entity List”) that designates individuals and companies who are barred from exporting items from the United States without a license.  Shevlyakov was added to the Entity List in 2012, after the U.S. government identified him as a procurement agent charged with pursuing U.S. technology for Russian government and military end users. Shevlyakov used false names and a web of front companies to evade the Entity List’s restrictions.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment.  The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section.  Assistant United States Attorney Alexander Mindlin is in charge of the prosecution, along with Trial Attorney Matthew Anzaldi of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, with assistance from Litigation Analyst Mary Clare McMahon.  The Office thanks the Estonian authorities for their valuable support.

Read more at the Justice Department

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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