Sixteen foreign nationals and corporations have been indicted on charges of illegally exporting potential military and explosives components to Iran, FOX News has learned.
A federal grand jury in Miami returned the 13-count indictment on Sept. 11 and unsealed it on Wednesday. Included in the charges are conspiracy, violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the United States Iran Embargo, and making false statements to federal agencies in connection with the export of thousands of U.S. goods to Iran.
The defendants are also charged with purchasing and exporting U.S. goods to Iran through "middle countries," including the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, England, Germany and Singapore.
All of the items identified in the charges have potential military applications, including as components in the construction of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
IEDs have increasingly become a source of danger for U.S. and allied troops abroad. The number of deaths from IEDs has increased steadily since the war in Iraq began, and the Pentagon has struggled to find a way to contain the threat in Middle East conflicts.
At a press conference Wednesday, FOX News learned that the defendants are accused of ordering over 12,000 microchips to be used as IED triggers from U.S. manufacturers and shipping them to the "middle countries."
Since the American suppliers were deemed unwitting accomplices, they have not been charged.
“Today's indictment details the global reach of Iranian procurement networks and underscores, in dramatic terms, the importance of keeping sensitive U.S. technology out of their grasp,” said Patrick Rowan, acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department.
Charged in the indictment are Iranian nationals Ali Akbar Yahya, Farrokh Nia Yaghmaei, Bahman Ghandi, Farshid Gillardian, Isaac Gillardian and Ahmad Rahzad Majid Seif as well as Kaam Chee Mun of Malaysia and Djamshid Nezhad of Germany.
The corporations include Dubai-based businesses Mayrow General Trading, Atlinx Electronics, Micatic General Trading, Madjico Micro Electronics and Al-Faris.
Neda Industrial Group, an Iran-based business and Eco Biochem Sdn BHD and Vast Solution Sdn BHD, both Malaysian businesses, were also named.
Several of the companies fall under Iranian state control.
The indictment also alleges that the defendants purchased numerous “dual-use” commodities, and then illegally exported them to buyers in Iran.
"Dual-use" commodities are goods and technologies that have commercial application, but could also be used to further the military or nuclear potential of other nations and could be detrimental to the foreign policy or national security of the United States.
According to the indictment, the exports included 120 field-programmable gate arrays, more than 5,000 integrated circuits of varying types, approximately 345 global positioning systems (GPS), 12,000 microchip brand micro-controllers and a field communicator.
“The national security implications of this case cannot be underestimated,” said Julie L. Myers, Homeland Security assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“The export of dual-use technology is controlled for good reason,” Myers added. “In the wrong hands, these items could be used to harm our soldiers, our homeland and our allies. Enforcing U.S. export laws is one of our top priorities, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who put our country at risk are brought to justice."
If convicted on the conspiracy charges, the defendants each face a statutory maximum sentence of up to five years imprisonment.
If convicted of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iran Embargo, the defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment.
If convicted of making false statements, the defendants face a statutory maximum sentence of up to five years imprisonment. In addition, the defendants face possible fines of up to $1 million.
Fox News' Ian McCaleb contributed to this report.