An Indonesian businessman was sentenced to four years in a U.S. federal prison for conspiring to purchase military-grade equipment and export it back to his country.
Hadianto Djoko Djuliarso, 42, pleaded guilty in January to violating the Arms Export Control Act and money laundering. He was sentenced Friday and was the last of four defendants to be sentenced.
All four men were arrested last year following a joint sting operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Detroit and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service in Columbus, Ohio.
"It was a serious sentence for serious charges," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Judge.
Authorities said Djuliarso, who was trained as a mechanical engineer, conspired with three partners to purchase equipment on behalf of the Indonesian military. Along with helicopter parts and aviation radar equipment, federal officials said the men expressed interest in handguns, machine guns, sniper rifles and air-to-air missiles.
An investigation began in 2005 when federal officials received a tip that Indonesian businessmen were trying to purchase U.S. military equipment despite a 1999 embargo.
Meetings in London and Detroit ensued between the men and U.S. undercover agents they believed were Detroit arms dealers.
In April 2006, Djuliarso and Ibrahim Bin Amran, 47, met with U.S. undercover agents at a Honolulu hotel. Joining them for meetings over the next few days were David Beecroft, 44, a British citizen who lived in Singapore and worked for Amran; and Ignatius Ferdinandus Soeharli, 51, a Jakarta office equipment wholesaler who financed the deal.
According to court documents, the four men smiled when agents provided three Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns, snapping pictures as they took turns holding weapons that were banned from export to Indonesia. The final deal was valued at $600,000 (EUR444,905).
"They were in this for financial gain," said ICE Special Agent in Charge Brian M. Moskowitz. "They were going to make this deal, regardless of the law."
Authorities say Djuliarso and Amran later wired the full payment amount to agents in anticipation of receiving military equipment earmarked for Indonesia's aging fleet of F-5 fighters, C-130 transports and OV-10 reconnaissance aircraft. Those wire transfers included a $300,000 (EUR222,000) exchange between Singapore and a Michigan bank account.
The four were arrested two days later and sent to Detroit to face charges.
"This sends a message that violating export laws in America is going to get you in a lot of trouble," U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy said.
Djuliarso's co-defendants also pleaded guilty. Beecroft was sentenced to the nine months he had spent in custody and was deported. Amran and Soeharli were sentenced to four and three years in prison, respectively.
Before he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Feikens, Djuliarso apologized and told the court he was a loving father of six children and a business owner who supported his elderly parents.
"At the time, we felt so happy because we felt ... we could provide spare parts to Indonesia," Djuliarso said.
"I have been suffering for more than a year. I lost my happiness with my family."
Defense attorney William Swor said his client was coerced by undercover agents.
Djuliarso's sentence includes forfeiture of more than $600,000 (EUR444,905) seized by federal officials, deportation following his prison release and the requirement that he receive permission from the U.S. government before re-entering the country.
The Americans came to realise that they would have to either leave the region or weaken their presence there. It is Russia that is filling the vacuum now