US Law – Arms Trafficker Sentenced To 20 Years’ Prison For Smuggling Rockets, Grenades and Other Weapons – US Legal Newswire –
LEV L. DASSIN, the Acting United States Attorney for
the Southern District of New York, announced that CHRISTIAAN
SPIES, a leader of an international arms trafficking operation,
was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for plotting to smuggle
shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (“SAMs”), rocket-propelled
grenades (“RPGs”), anti-tank guided missiles, and other high-
powered military weapons into the United States for sale. United
States District Judge RICHARD J. HOLWELL imposed the sentence
today in Manhattan federal court.

SPIES, 37, and his co-defendants ARTUR SOLOMONYAN and
IOSEB KHARABADZE, were found guilty on July 24, 2007, following a
one-month jury trial, of conspiring to smuggle SAMs, RPGs,
machine guns, and other high-powered weapons from Eastern Europe
into the United States. The jury also found SPIES and SOLOMONYAN
guilty of illegally trafficking in machine guns and other assault
weapons. Judge HOLWELL previously sentenced SOLOMONYAN and
KHARABADZE to 22 years and 9 years in prison respectively for
their roles in the offense.

According to the evidence at trial:
From December 2003 to March 15, 2005, SOLOMONYAN,
SPIES, and KHARABADZE brokered a deal to import RPGs, SAMs, anti-
tank missile systems, and other military weapons from Eastern
Europe into the United States, for sale to a confidential
informant (“CI”) posing as an arms trafficker. SOLOMONYAN and
SPIES met with the CI in New York City on several occasions to
discuss the details of their weapons deal, including the
specifications and prices of various weapons that the defendants
could ship. In June 2004, at a meeting in New York City,
SOLOMONYAN and SPIES provided the CI with a price list of weapons
obtained from KHARABADZE that day. In February 2005, SOLOMONYAN
and SPIES provided the CI with digital photographs of military
weapons in Armenia that they proposed to import into the United
States for sale to the CI. In addition, while SOLOMONYAN and
SPIES were arranging to import the military weapons from Easter
Europe, they sold to the CI and delivered one machine gun and
seven assault weapons.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) arrested
SOLOMONYAN, SPIES, and KHARABADZE before any of them could travel
outside of the United States to obtain these weapons.
Judge HOLWELL previously sentenced 15 other related
defendants convicted of firearms trafficking offenses in
connection with this investigation, including DMITRIY VOROBEYCHIK
(34 months), who were convicted at trial in July 2007 along with

At the sentencing hearing of KHARABADZE on March 11,
2009, Judge HOLWELL described SPIES as one of the “moving forces
in the conspiracy.”

At the sentencing today, Judge HOLWELL said, with
respect to SPIES’s role, “the underlying crimes are extremely
serious offenses and those who commit them deserve a substantial
punishment to deter them and others like them from committing
similar crimes in the future.”

Mr. DASSIN praised the work of the FBI and the New York
City Police Department in their handling of this investigation.
Mr. DASSIN also expressed his thanks to the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the United States Department
of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement for
their assistance.

Assistant United States Attorneys MARC P. BERGER and
DAVID B. MASSEY are in charge of the prosecution.

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