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Global arms smuggler used Fast & Furious strategy against U.S.

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An international arms dealer is set to serve a 15-year sentence in federal prison for illegally obtaining and selling military hardware in a conspiracy that violated the Arms Export Control Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as well as his involvement in money laundering, according to the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday. Ironically, it was the same method used during the gun-walking scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious in which U.S. federal agents also used "straw buyers."

Siarhei Baltutski, aka Sergey Boltutskiy, of Minsk, Belarus, on Jan. 25, 2013 entered into a plea agreement on all charges, according to U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

In addition to the 15-year prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ordered the 41-year-old Baltutski to serve three years of supervised release.

Baltutski was the alleged ringleader of an international arms-smuggling ring that recruited U.S. "straw buyers," including Belarusians living as legal permanent residents in Philadelphia.

According to the Justice Department, Between Jan. 1, 2008, and Sept. 21, 2011, Baltutski organized a criminal enterprise within the United States in order to obtain and illegally export to Belarus high-tech military hardware including Scorpion Thermal Weapon Sights, ThOR 2 Thermal Imaging Scopes, Thermal-Eye Renegade 320’s, and other night vision targeting devices.

During this criminal conspiracy, Baltutski and his co-conspirators and minions illegally exported hundreds of pieces of high-tech military hardware. Baltutski then secretly transfered hundreds of thousands of dollars via offshore shell companies, to purchase these items, to pay for shipping, and to pay his network of straw buyers.

The Arms Export Control Act and the International Emergency Economic Power Act prohibit the export of high-tech military technology.

"Keeping this technology out of the hands of current and potential adversaries is critical to national interest and the safety and success of U.S. service members in combat," stated Memeger.

"We know that similar devices have ended up in the hands of insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Livermore and Jerome Maiatico stated.

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