Justice Department today announced the filing of a forfeiture complaint
against over 9,000 rifles, 284 machine guns, approximately 194 rocket
launchers, over 70 anti-tank guided missiles and over 700,000 rounds of
ammunition that the U.S. Navy seized in transit from Iran’s Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to militant groups in Yemen.
“The government of Iran, through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps, remains bent on smuggling weapons of war to militant groups in
violation of U.S. sanctions and international law,” said Assistant
Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National
Security Division. “As this seizure demonstrates, the Department of
Justice will work in lockstep with our U.S. Government partners to deny
the Iranian regime the means to undermine our nation’s interest and
threaten the security of our people.”
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office has again taken action to prevent Iran’s
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from spreading violence and bloodshed
across the world and threatening the security of our nation and allies,”
said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “As
proven before, where we have jurisdiction, this office will use all the
tools available in our power to prevent criminals and terrorists from
threatening global stability.”
“It is paramount this significant amount of seized weapons and
ammunition aimed to cause global devastation never reach its intended
destination,” said Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon of Homeland
Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. “HSI Washington D.C.,
with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and the
assistance from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, will continue to
identify, disrupt and dismantle Iran’s illicit flow of weapons at every
level. Offenders who violate U.S. export laws will be brought to
justice, as we are committed to protecting our nation worldwide.”
According to court documents, the noted weapons came from four
interdictions of stateless dhow vessels: two from 2021 and two from
2023. These interdictions led to the discovery and seizure of four large
caches of conventional weapons, including long arms and anti-tank
missiles, and related munitions – all of which were determined to be
primarily of either Iranian, Chinese or Russian origin.
This action follows the government’s March 2023 forfeiture action
against over one million rounds of ammunition enroute from Iran to
Yemen. The network for both actions was involved in the illicit
trafficking of advanced conventional weapons systems and components by
sanctioned Iranian entities that directly support military action by the
Houthi movement in Yemen and the Iranian regime’s campaign of terrorist
activities throughout the region. The forfeiture complaint alleges a
sophisticated scheme by the IRGC to clandestinely ship weapons to
entities that pose grave threats to U.S. national security.
This forfeiture action is a product of the U.S. government’s
coordinated effort to enforce U.S. sanctions against the IRGC and the
Iranian regime and are merely allegations.
The HSI Washington Field Office and the DCIS Mid-Atlantic Field
Office are leading the larger investigation of the Iranian
weapons-smuggling network, with substantial assistance from the U.S.
Naval Forces Central Command in conducting the seizure. This team was
also responsible for the March 2023 forfeiture action, which remains
pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stuart D. Allen, Brian P. Hudak, Rajbir S.
Datta and Anna D. Walker for the District of Columbia and Trial
Attorneys S. Derek Shugert and Joshua Champagne of the National Security
Division are litigating the case, with support from Paralegal
Specialists Brian Rickers and Angela De Falco.
The burden to prove forfeitability in a forfeiture proceeding is upon the government.