Arms Smuggler, FSB Colonel Extradited to US From Estonia

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A Russian citizen alleged to have ties with Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) will face charges in a U.S. court today. The charges relate to conspiracy, money laundering, and participating in a global procurement network on behalf of the Russian government.

48-year-old Vadim Konoshchenok was arrested in  Tallinn, Estonia,  He was extradited to the United States on July 13.

Konoshchenok is accused of smuggling illicit munitions to support Russia’s military endeavors and using front companies to mask his criminal activity.

Matthew G. Olsen, the Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's National Security Division, stated that the Department of Justice is dedicated to countering Russian aggression and will not tolerate violations of U.S. sanctions that aid Russia's war efforts.

The indictment alleges that Konoshchenok played a significant role in a scheme to supply American-made electronics and ammunition for Russia's weapons development and war efforts, violating several U.S. laws, including export controls and economic sanctions.

According to the indictment, Konoshchenok and his co-defendants were affiliated with Moscow-based companies Serniya Engineering and Sertal LLC, known as the Serniya Network. These companies are believed to operate under the direction of Russian intelligence services, procuring advanced electronics and sophisticated testing equipment for Russia’s military industrial complex and research and development sector. Some of these items can be used in the development of nuclear and hypersonic weapons, as well as in quantum computing and other military applications.

Court documents reveal that in electronic communications, Konoshchenok identified himself as an FSB “Colonel” and had multiple contacts and emails affiliated with the FSB.

Estonia, where Konoshchenok resided, served as a popular transshipment point for smuggling U.S.-origin items into Russia. Konoshchenok was apprehended by Estonian authorities in October 2022 with a cache of semiconductors and electronic components, including several U.S.-origin and export-controlled items. He was also caught attempting to smuggle hundreds of thousands of American-made and export-controlled ammunition into Russia.

If convicted, Konoshchenok could face up to 30 years in prison.

[DOJ Release]