Russian Agent Pleads Guilty in High-Tech Smuggling Scheme

Alexander Fishenko admitted to sneaking “cutting edge” microelectronics home.

— -- A Russian secret agent pleaded guilty today to charges related to his role in sneaking “cutting edge” U.S.-made electronics illegally back to the motherland, including to Russia’s spy agency, according to federal officials.

Alexander Fishenko was arrested in October 2012 and accused of being at the center of a Russian “military procurement ring” that for years used a Texas-based front company in a scheme to, in part, trick U.S. customs agents into believing his company was shipping harmless goods -- like traffic light parts -- to Russia, when the ring was actually sending advanced microelectronics that could be used in military applications including radar and weapons guidance systems.

American investigators uncovered, for instance, a letter from a “specialized electronics laboratory of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB),” which is the successor to the infamous KGB, to Fishenko’s company that discussed electronics the company had procured for the Russian spy agency. The spy agency was miffed the electronics were apparently faulty, according to the Department of Justice.

“Fishenko lined his pockets at the expense of our national security,” Acting United States Attorney Kelly Currie said in a press release.

Ten other individuals were caught up in the 2012 dragnet and so far five, including Fishenko, have pleaded guilty. Three others are slated to begin their trials later this month.