Bolingbrook Man Charged with Attempting to Illegally Export Thermal Imaging Camera to Pakistan
CHICAGO—A Bolingbrook man was indicted on federal charges alleging that he violated U.S. export laws by attempting to ship a thermal imaging camera from his company in Schaumburg to a company in Pakistan without obtaining a license from the U.S. Commerce Department, federal law enforcement officials announced today.
The case involves a FLIR HRC-U thermal imaging camera, which was on a Commerce Department list of controlled export goods for reasons of national security and regional stability. As a controlled material, a license was required from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security to export the camera to certain countries, including Pakistan.
The defendant, Bilal Ahmed, 33, was charged with one count of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and one count of attempted smuggling of goods in violation of U.S. export regulations in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury yesterday. Ahmed was initially charged in a criminal complaint and arrested on March 14, and he was subsequently released on a $100,000 secured bond. No date has been set yet for Ahmed to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
According to the complaint affidavit and the indictment, Ahmed was the owner, president, and registered agent of Trexim Corp., which used the address of a virtual office in Schaumburg. Between November 2013 and February of this year, Ahmed corresponded via e-mail with a company in California and negotiated the purchase of a FLIR HRC-U camera for approximately $102,000, which he paid with two checks in February. Ahmed took delivery of the camera on February 27 at a commercial shipping store in Bolingbrook.
On March 7, Ahmed allegedly took the camera, packaged in two boxes, to a different commercial shipper located in Elk Grove Village and left the packages to be shipped to a company in Pakistan. The waybill included a handwritten note containing the letters “NLR,” meaning “no license required.” A search of U.S. State and Commerce Department databases showed there were no licenses applied for or obtained by Ahmed, Trexim, or any other related individual or company names for the export of a FLIR HRC-U camera from the U.S. to Pakistan, the indictment alleges.
The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Ronald B. Orzel, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement, Chicago Field Office. The Justice Department’s National Security Division is providing assistance in the case.
Violating IEEPA carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, while attempted smuggling of goods carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bethany Biesenthal.
An indictment contains merely charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.