A Bulgarian businessman with ties to a downtown Miami export company was arrested on charges of shipping banned parts and equipment to Syrian Arab Airlines, federal authorities said Wednesday.
Zhelyaz Andreev, 29, was arrested on an Interpol Red Notice based on a federal indictment filed in Miami that charges him with conspiring to defraud the U.S., violating the Syria Trade Embargo and illegally doing business with the Syrian government airline.
The indictment charges Andreev, who worked in the Bulgaria office of AW-Tronics, a Miami export company, with breaking U.S. laws that prohibit the export of “dual-use goods” for civilian and military purposes to Syrian Arab Air, a commercial airline also known as Syrian Air. Andreev dealt directly with Syrian Air principals who procured the parts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida.
Syrian Air is blocked by the Treasury Department from transporting weapons and ammunition to Syria because it has a history of collaborating with the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hezbollah and the Iranian military in arms shipments to the Syrian government in its civil war with rebel groups.
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The Department of Justice says the equipment exported to Syrian Air has “assisted the Syrian government’s violent crackdown on its people.”
While Hezbollah is a political force in Lebanon, it is also suspected by U.S. authorities of orchestrating terrorist attacks in the Middle East and other parts of the world with the backing of the Iranian government and a funding network that extends to Latin America and South Florida.
AW-Tronics, with an address listed at 100 N. Biscayne Blvd., could not be reached for comment. The shipping company was not charged in the indictment. but its managers pleaded guilty?
The indictment, filed in 2016, accuses Andreev and 10 other people of the export violations. Syrian Air is also charged.
AW-Tronics, managed in Miami by Arash Caby and in Bulgaria by Ali Caby, took care of the sales and delivery of parts and equipment to Syrian Air, according to the indictment. It further alleges that AW’s compliance officer, Marjan Caby, who worked in Miami, helped keep the deals moving by falsifying government documents about the shipments to the Syrian airline.
The three Cabys are the only defendants in U.S. custody. Last year, the trio pleaded guilty to export-conspiracy charges and have been sentenced to between one and two years in prison, court records show.
Andreev, who will be extradited to Miami, is being prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys Ricardo Del Toro and Michael Thakur and trial attorney Matthew Walczewski of the Justice Department. The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and Defense Criminal Investigative Service led the probe.