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DOJ charges 7 with smuggling equipment to Russian military

Washington(CNN) The US Justice Department has charged five Russian nationals, one American and an Israeli who is a US permanent resident with allegedly conspiring to violate US sanctions by smuggling US-made equipment to the Russian military, according to a recently unsealed court documents.

According to the 16-count indictment, the defendants were associated with two Moscow companies that worked with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to purchase and smuggle sanctioned items -- including semiconductors and other electronic equipment -- from the US to the Russian military.

The seven individuals, Yevgeniy Grinin, Aleksey Ippolitov, Boris Livshits, Svetlana Skvortsova, Vadim Konoshchenok, Alexey Brayman and Vadim Yermolenko, "unlawfully sourced, purchased and shipped millions of dollars in military and sensitive dual-use technologies from US manufacturers and vendors located in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere for Russian end users," the indictment said.

"As alleged, the defendants perpetrated a sophisticated procurement network that illegally obtained sensitive U.S. technology to facilitate the Russian war machine," Breon Peace, US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement Tuesday. "Our Office will not rest in its vigorous pursuit of persons who unlawfully procure U.S. technology to be used in furtherance of Russia's brutal war on democracy."

According to the indictment, Russian nationals Grinin and Skvortsova would receive requests from Ippolitov, also a Russian national, for sanctioned items from the US.

Grinin and Skvortsova would allegedly map out shipping routes while Livshits -- through shell companies and US bank accounts -- would allegedly purchase the items from US companies, according to the indictment.

Grinin, Skvortsova, Ippolitov and Livshits remain at large, according to the Justice Department, while Brayman, a permanent resident in the US, Yermolenko, a US citizen, and Konoshchenok, a Russian national, are in custody.

Based in the US, Brayman and Yermolenko would allegedly "fabricate shipping documents and invoices" to ship items around the world before they would eventually be sent to Russia, according to the DOJ.

Konoshchenok, who the Justice Department believes is an officer for the FSB, was allegedly one of their smugglers.

The alleged FSB officer was arrested in Estonia last week after allegedly attempting to smuggle twenty cases of US-made sniper rifle ammunition into Russia in late November.

According to the indictment, Konoshchenok was also stopped by police at the Estonian border with thousands of additional US-made bullets as well as "semiconductors and other electronic components," some of which were controlled by the US government "for reasons of anti-terrorism."

When Estonian law enforcement searched a warehouse allegedly used by Konoshchenok they discovered 375 pounds of US-made ammunition, according to the Justice Department. Proceedings to extradite Konoshchenok to the US will begin soon, US officials said.

The two US nationals, Brayman and Yermolenko, are scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Tuesday.

"At this stage Mr. Brayman has only been charged, he has not been convicted of anything," Brayman's attorney, David Lazarus, told CNN. "Like all defendants, Mr. Brayman is entitled to the presumption of innocence."

No attorney for Yermolenko was listed on the public docket.

The defendants face a 30-year maximum sentence if convicted, according to the Justice Department.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly reflect the nationalities of those charged by the DOJ.