HONOLULU (CN) – A North Korean with a Cambodian passport who lives in China bought military-grade night-vision goggles from an undercover agent posing as an online arms dealer, federal prosecutors say.
Kim Song Il aka song Il Kim, 41, negotiated with the agent in Utah for several months to buy six night-vision goggles, finally meeting the agent in Waikiki on June 15, where he was arrested.
In a July 16 federal complaint in Utah, recently unsealed, Homeland Security agent Tyler Hatch said the investigation started in April. Kim wanted to buy three each of two models of the night-vision goggles: the AN/PVS 14, and the PVS-7, the agent said.
“During the course of communication via the telephone, email and Skype chat feature, the UCA informed Kim it was illegal to export the AN/PVS-14s from the U.S. to China,” Hatch said in an affidavit .
Kim was unfazed. He told the agent he knew it was illegal, and that he would export the devices to China, also illegally, Hatch added.
Kim also asked for the AN/PVS-7 model, and said he would send them to China too. “He has also attempted to utilize other individuals within the U.S. to purchase and ultimately, export night vision optics to him in China,” the complaint states.
Kim agreed in May to come to the United States to buy the military-grade devices for $22,000, according to the complaint. After inspecting them, he said he would make a 50 percent down payment through a bank wire transfer to the agent’s bank in Salt Lake City.
Under the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulation, the United States prohibits exports and sales of defense articles and services to several countries, including Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela, and to countries on which the United States maintains an arms embargo, including Burma, China, Liberia and Sudan.
The night-vision goggles are also on the United States Munitions List, and require a State Department export license.
On June 3, a Mandarin-speaking agent contacted Kim to make sure he understood the legalities of the deals. Not once did Kim even hint that he intended to seek, a license; rather, he discussed how he would smuggle them through U.S. Customs, according to the court documents.
He said he would put “the night vision units in boxes full of cheap toys and/or clothing declaring the goods in the packages as such.”
Kim appeared in Honolulu Federal Court on Monday for a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi.
Puglisi granted the government motion to detain Kim without bail. Based on a financial statement, the judge determined that Kim is not entitled to a public defender.
He will be transferred to Utah, where the case originated, after he is indicted.
The government will also notify the Cambodian Embassy and the People’s Republic of China’s Consulate Office of his arrest and his need for representation.
China is North Korea’s main conduit for dealings with the outside world.
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