A New Jersey woman faces up to five years in prison for her role in a scheme to smuggle airline parts illegally into Iran.
Joyce Eliabachu pleaded guilty on Tuesday to playing a pivotal role in smuggling over $2,000,000 in airline parts to desperate Iranian airlines. As tensions between the USA and Iran have soured and sanctions have been re-introduced, Iranian airlines are once again starved for spare parts for their aging fleets. Boeing and Airbus deals to Iran Air and other Iranian carriers have been blocked, meaning older aircrafts must be kept airworthy.
Eliabachu ran the operation from her Morristown home, about 30 minutes west of Newark International Airport. Parts were first shipped to Turkey, then to the United Abab Emirates, and finally to Iran. Between 2015-2017, 49 shipments containing 23,554 license-controlled aircraft parts reached Iran. Her co-conspirator, Peyman Amiri Larijani, faces money laundering and conspiracy charges.
I write about this story because I am always fascinated about how people capitalize upon political events to make money. Just like the Prohibition Era in the United States was a great boon to organized crime, so are embargoes and blockades to those who find ways to work around them. I cannot condone unlawful behavior, but I am impressed by the operation Eliabachus ran from her own home.
You can read the Department of Justice press release here, which contains far more details on the case.
As tensions rise between the United States and Islamic Republic, these sorts of “opportunities” will continue to be exploited. Whenever there is a market for goods, there will be some willing to take the risk to reap the financial rewards. But as Eliabachu faces five years in prison, I’m sure she is wondering whether the risk was ever worthwhile…