Airline crew arrested for smuggling $50 million in stolen iPads, iPhones

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Handcuffs
Ten Aeroflot crew members have been charged.
Photo: Bill Oxford/Unsplash CC

A band of Aeroflot Airlines crew members have been charged with smuggling $50 million worth of stolen electronic goods — including iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches — into Russia.

The plot was uncovered when crew members’ luggage was inspected. This resulted in the discovery of many of the devices in question. In total, 10 people have so far been charged, eight suspects arrested, and two are currently described as fugitives. A massive 113 visas of Aeroflot employees were also revoked.

Aeroflot is the largest airline of the Russian Federation. It is also among the world’s oldest active airlines, having been founded in 1923. The airline recorded a second quarter loss of $485 million this year, due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As alleged, the defendants were members of an international smuggling ring that used a network of operators here and in Russia to circumvent US export laws and regulations,” United States Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a Department of Justice (DOJ) release.

The investigation that led to the discovery was carried out by the FBI, US Customs and Border Protection, and the New York City Police Department. It has not been revealed what percentage of the massive $50m haul was made up of Apple devices.

Airline iPhone arrest is not the first such incident

Apple products seem to pop up with surprising frequency in criminal endeavors. In some cases, it’s people trying to smuggle fake Apple devices into the U.S. Last year, a Chinese national caught smuggling fake Apple products into America was handed a three-year prison sentence. In other scenarios, it’s criminals targeting Apple Stores in smash and grab raids.

Via: Business Insider