Woman nabbed in US for arms-smuggle bid to Russia

28th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Russian woman has been arrested in the United States for allegedly attempting to smuggle sophisticated rifles to Moscow in her luggage, Justice Department documents obtained by AFP Tuesday showed.

Latvian-born Anna Fermanova, 24, was arrested July 15 but her case was unrelated to that of 10 people charged in the United States with being sleeper agents for Moscow, her lawyer Scott Palmer said.

An 11th agent was arrested in Cyprus but later vanished after posting bail.

Fermanova was being investigated in New York after authorities found weapons in her baggage bound for Russia March 1 at New York's John F. Kennedy international airport. A court source said she has not yet been charged.

She was questioned about three rifles equipped with scopes, including one that had night vision capabilities, according to the documents.

The woman, who lives in Texas, said she bought them for her husband, who resides in Moscow, to use for hunting. She also said she was unaware of US export regulations.

When asked "why some identification numbers had been covered with black marker pen, Fermanova replied that she had removed and otherwise concealed the identification markings 'so they would be less noticeable,'" the documents also said.

The weapons the woman had in her suitcase can be bought on the Internet in the United States for about 7,000 dollars. Websites selling the goods however say that only police and military members should be eligible to carry them.

She was allowed to board the plane, and she returned to the United States in July. Eight days after her arrival, an arrest warrant was issued and she was detained for questioning.

"She had no idea she was going to be arrested. She came back to celebrate her birthday with her family in Texas," Palmer said.

© 2010 AFP

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