There is, apparently, an entity known as the North Texas Counterproliferation Task Force. It's sufficiently new/under the radar to yield exactly zero matches on Google, but it's a thing, and it's made up of agents from the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security, and the Departments of Commerce and Defense.
We learned that today from the office of U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana, which sent a press release announcing that the task force's investigation had led to the indictment of two North Texas men who allegedly conspired to bypass U.S. sanctions and ship millions of dollars worth of computers to Iran.
Borna Faizy, 42, and Touraj Ghavidel, 44, ran an Addison-based company, Signal Microsystems, that sold computers to customers both domestic and international. There's nothing wrong with that in theory, but the government says Faizy and Ghavidel actively courted customers in Iran, which is the focus of longstanding U.S. sanctions.
To bypass onerous trade restrictions, Faizy and Ghavidel (who, to sound more American and/or dispel any suspicion that they could possibly be engaged in illegal trade with Iran of all places, went by "Brad" and "Brent Dell," respectively) allegedly shipped their computers to Dubai, where they had met many of their Persian customers at the GITEX computer trade show, then had them delivered to Iranian customers via a freight-forwarding company.
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They arranged the shipments using fake names and coded language and forged invoices and export forms to make their transactions seem legit, according to the indictment. All told, the government says they illegally sold $12 million worth of computers to customers in Iran.
There's no indication from court documents that any of the computers were used for, say, developing Iranian nuclear weapons or hacking U.S. government websites, but the feds are throwing the book at them nonetheless. Faizy and Ghavidel each face a possible 205 years in prison and $2.75 million fine. They're charged with 11 counts in all: one for conspiracy to illegally export to Iran; nine for illegal export and attempted export of goods to Iran; and one count of making false statements to a federal agency.
But lest you come away with the impression that Faizy and Ghavidel are some anti-American radicals bent on subverting U.S. interests, we leave you with a picture, pulled from Ghavidel's Twitter account, and a question:
Is it really possible to hate America and be a fan of Ron Jeremy?