If anyone is still laboring under the impression that the U.S. Government will not prosecute "minor" violations of the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR), they need to wise up. Even improper exports of handguns to people in "friendly" countries can trigger enforcement actions. And it makes no difference where in the United States the problematic exports originate.
Case in point: a Kansas man was charged in an indictment filed June 3 in Topeka with knowingly making false statements to licensed firearms dealers; possession of firearms from which the manufacturer’s serial numbers had been removed, altered and obliterated; and exporting and/or attempting to export these firearms overseas. According to allegations in the indictment, Michael Andrew Ryan (also known as "GunRunner"), had exported and attempted to export firearms in different packages from the United States to individuals located in Ireland, England, Scotland and Australia. The weapons in question included a Glock model 27 .40 caliber pistol and 318 rounds of assorted ammunition and eight magazines, which according to the indictment Mr. Ryan shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce in violation of federal law.
The matter is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security; two Police Departments; and the assistance of the ATF Washington, D.C.
Bottom line: If an item is listed on the U.S. Munitions List, it’s controlled under ITAR. Unauthorized exports of such items can and will be prosecuted, regardless of where they originate or where they are going. While there may be a practical limit on the number of enforcement proceedings the Government is able to bring, exporters need to understand that the U.S. Government does not recognize the concept of a de minimis ITAR violation. In the right circumstances, even a purportedly "minor" infraction can lead to an indictment.
Eric Whytsell is responsible for the contents of this Short Take.
© Jackson Kelly PLLC 2015