LOS ANGELES -- Three Saudi nationals were charged in Southern California with violating federal export laws by buying $100,000 worth of gun parts in the U.S. while on student visas and smuggling them to Saudi Arabia, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
An indictment returned this week charges Hatim Humeed Alsufyani, 36, and Mosab Alzahrani, 27, with conspiracy and knowingly exporting weapons parts without a license, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
A separate indictment charges Abdulwahab Mohammed A. Alabdulwahab, 30, with similar counts, as well as smuggling.
All three are believed to be in Saudi Arabia and could not be reached for comment.
Alsufyani and Alzahrani allegedly conspired between 2014 and 2018 to smuggle firearms parts from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia by falsely identifying rifle barrels, rifle triggers and other items as "shower curtain rods" or "car parts," according to a news release.
On Dec. 10, 2016, Alzahrani attempted to board a flight from Los Angeles to Riyadh with 30 firearms parts concealed in his checked luggage, the indictment alleges.
Alzahrani was allowed to leave the country after being found with weapons parts, spokesman Thom Mrozek said. Mrozek wasn't sure if he was allowed to leave that day or at a later date.
Between 2015 and 2018, Alabdulwahab contacted U.S.-based firearms parts retailers to purchase firearms parts for the purpose of illegally exporting those components to Saudi Arabia, court papers said.
Mrozek said the timing of the indictments has nothing to do with a separate case in Northern California alleging the Saudi government recruited Twitter employees to gather confidential information on thousands of accounts that included prominent opponents.