By: Danielle McClellan
In November 2012, three individuals and one company were indicted with charges of criminal conspiracy, wire fraud, illegal export of goods, money laundering, and false statements. Until now the indictment remained under seal pending the arrest of the defendants.
Between 2003 and 2012, d-Deri Contracting & Trading (owned by Ahmad Feras Diri of London) was exporting goods originally from the US from Global Parts Supply (owned by Harold Rinko of Hallstead, PA) to his brother and business partner Moawea Deri who was located in Syria. The goods purchased from Rinko’s US company were done so based on false invoices, undervalued and mislabeled goods. Then the purchased goods were exported by falsely listing their identity and final geographic location on all documentation. The items would be shipped from the US to Jordan, the UAE, and the UK, and finally transshipped to Syria.
The items exported allegedly included:
- a portable gas scanner used for detection of chemical warfare agents by civil defense, military, police and border control agencies;
- a handheld instrument for field detection and classification of chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals;
- a laboratory source for detection of chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals in research, public safety and industrial environments;
- a rubber mask for civil defense against chemicals and gases;
- a meter used to measure chemicals and their composition;
- flowmeters for measuring gas streams;
- a stirrer for mixing and testing liquid chemical compounds;
- industrial engines for use in oil and gas field operations and a device used to accurately locate buried pipelines
Note: Nearly all exports to Syria will be denied, other than a few items categorized under humanitarian food and medicine. The goal of the embargo on Syria is to shut down the supply chain used by the Syrian state to support terrorism and create proliferate weapons of mass destruction, and in this specific case, chemical weapons.
Fast forward to this month, Ahmad Feras Diri (age 43) of London has plead guilty to conspiracy to illegally export items used to detect chemical warfare agents to Syria. He lost his extradition fight in the UK in November 2015 at which point he was brought to the US to face the charges. Diri admitted that he conspired to export items from the US through third party countries to customers in Syria without obtaining the required US Commerce Department licenses.
Harold Rinko (age 73 of Hallstead, PA) was indicted by a grand jury in November 2012 and admitted in court that he conspired to export the items from the US through third party countries to customers in Syria without an export license.
Moawea Deri remains at large and is considered a fugitive but will likely remain in Syria as extradition is unlikely to occur.
“This extradition demonstrates HSI’s commitment to use all its resources to prevent sensitive and restricted technology from being exported to Syria through the black market,” said HSI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge John Kelleghan. “No good comes of illegal exports to Syria, especially during this time of gross misgovernment and civil strife. As the principal enforcer of export controls, HSI will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that sensitive technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands in Syria. I applaud our colleagues at the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, along with our law enforcement counterparts in the United Kingdom. This coordinated effort helped us make this complex investigation a success.”