Russian smuggling ring used couple’s Etsy shop as cover to aid Ukraine’s war effort: FBI

A New Hampshire couple used their Etsy craft shop as an excuse to allegedly ship equipment used in nuclear weapons to Russia, prosecutors claim.

Alexey Brayman, a Ukrainian ex-pat, has been accused of smuggling “highly sensitive” electronic components overseas to create deadly weapons for Russia’s war on Ukraine, federal indictment documents revealed on Tuesday.

Brayman and Vadim Yermolenko of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, mailed their Etsy items along with the illegal materials from their home.

“You got a lot of packages. Which I think makes sense now,” Amy Goodridge, who lives across the street from the Braymans, told the Boston Globe.

Brayman allegedly worked with a team of six others, five of whom are Russian nationals, to secretly export equipment like semiconductors and oscilloscopes around the world before eventually ending up in Russia.

“As alleged, the defendants operated an elaborate procurement network that illegally acquired sensitive US technology to support the Russian war machine,” said US Attorney Breon Peace.

Alexey and Daria Brayman can be seen in social media photos.
Alexey Brayman was arrested with his wife Daria for allegedly smuggling sensitive technology from the US to Russia.
Facebook/Alexey Brayman

According to the charges, the smuggling ring would set up shell companies and bank accounts in the New York City area to procure the sensitive technology from US companies.

The Braymans then produced shipping documents and invoices before repackaging the items and sending them on to intermediate destinations around the world, often to a conspirator in Estonia, who then shipped the packages to Russia, federal prosecutors allege.

According to the indictment, the company was “crucial to the war machine of the Russian Federation”.

The ring reportedly used Brayman’s Merrimack home as a clearinghouse for the operation, where an influx of incoming and outgoing packets would not appear suspicious. Brayman and his wife, Daria, run CoolHouzGifts, an Etsy business specializing in grooming packages.

Alexey and Daria Brayman's home in Ellie Dr.

Brayman’s home was used as a clearing house for the operation, prosecutors allege.

Alexey drives a car.

Brayman is originally from Kiev, Ukraine, according to Facebook.

Alexey and Daria Brayman can be seen in social media photos.

The couple runs an Etsy page specializing in care packages.

The humble couple also outwardly sympathized with Ukraine during the 10-month war. Brayman, who lists Kiev as his hometown on Facebook, shared a video on the website of a Ukrainian dance group on America’s Got Talent performing a celebratory tribute to their district despite years of Russian aggression.

In March, Russian-born Daria made a donation to Sunflower of Peace, a charity that provides “life-saving medical and humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians affected by the Russian military invasion.”

Daria told the newspaper that she knew nothing about her husband’s alleged espionage.

Daria Braymann.
Daria Brayman denied knowing anything about her husband’s alleged crimes.

“We hold craft festivals and fairs,” she said.

It’s not clear how long Brayman allegedly smuggled the deadly technology out of his New Hampshire home, but documents obtained by The Globe suggest the group of Russian nationals may have started searching for one in the US in 2017 resident smugglers has started.

In July, officials installed a tracking device package purchased by the Russian National Group, the documents say. Addressed to Germany, the package was transported from Nevada to Brayman’s home in Merrimack before being intercepted at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Officers searched Brayman’s home shortly after, The Globe reported.

Brayman was due to transform on Tuesday. Prosecutors are asking he be held on $250,000 bail and forfeit his passport, citing him as a flight risk, records show. He faces up to 30 years in prison.

Alexey at a Celtics game.
Brayman allegedly shipped equipment such as semiconductors and oscilloscopes to Russia.
Facebook/Alexey Brayman
Alexey is standing in front of a tree.
Brayman was reportedly responsible for preparing shipping documents and invoices.
Facebook/Alexey Brayman

Yermolenko, Brayman’s New Jersey conspirator, was charged Tuesday in Brooklyn, officials said. He posted bail of $500,000, partially secured by his home.

Estonia-based conspirator Vadim Konoshchenok was arrested at a warehouse where authorities seized around £375 worth of US-made ammunition.

Four other Russian nationals remain at large. Russian smuggling ring used couple’s Etsy shop as cover to aid Ukraine’s war effort: FBI


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