Two Los Angeles-Area Men Arrested in Conspiracy to Export Defense Items to Iran

Two men based in the Los Angeles area were arrested on October 26, 2016 on federal charges related to a conspiracy to export military aircraft parts and other defense items to Iran.  Zavik Zargarian, 52, of Glendale, California, and Vache Nayiran, 57, of Lakeview Terrace, California, were taken into custody and charged with violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).  Zagarian and Nayiran are both dual citizens of Iran and the United States.

The indictment, unsealed on October 26, also names Zagarian’s Glendale-based company, ZNC Engineering, along with two Iranian nationals believed to be in Iran: Hanri Terminassian, 55, and Hormoz Nowrouz, 56.

The indictment alleges that the five defendants participated in a scheme to purchase and illegally export fluorocarbon rubber O-rings to Iran.  O-rings have a variety of military applications and can be used in aircraft hydraulic systems and landing gear.  According to the indictment, Nowrouz, who is managing director of a company called Kalaye Sanaty Iran (KSI), would contact Tarminassian with requests to acquire the O-rings.  Tarminassian, who is a citizen of Iran and a legal permanent resident of the United States, would then contact Zargarian.  Zargarian used his company, ZNC Engineering, to purchase the O-rings from a California-based company. Tarminassian would then arrange for payment to be sent through Nayirian, who would assure the transfer of funds to Zargarian.  Nayrian would ship the O-rings to addresses in Dubai or Kuwait using deliberately falsified export documents that undervalued the items in order to avoid suspicion by the authorities.  Tarminassian would then arrange for the transshipment of the items to Iran, where the ultimate end-user was the Iranian Air Force. According to the indictment, the defendants exported more than 7,000 O-rings to Iran.

Federal authorities also accused three of the defendants of conspiring to purchase and ship jet fighter aircraft parts worth over $3.6 million to Iran.  According to the indictment, Zargarian, acting as an officer of ZNC Engineering, sought to acquire military aircraft parts from U.S.-based suppliers on behalf of Tarminassian. These parts include a pneumatic accumulator, a liquid oxygen converter, and a liquid oxygen tank, parts which can be used in F-14, F-15, F-16, and F-18 fighter jets.  Zagarian negotiated to purchase between 10 and 30 units of each item for Tarminassian from an undercover Homeland Security Investigations officer posing as a parts supplier.

The trial for Zargarain and Nayirian begins on December 20, 2016 in federal court before U.S. District Judge S. James Otero.  If convicted on all counts, Zagarian faces a maximum sentence of 115 years in prison and a $4,770,000 fine.  Nayiran faces 95 years in prison and a $3,700,000 fine.  Both defendants pleaded not guilty and were freed on bail on October 26.  Tarminassian and Nowrouz remain at large.


[1] “Two Los-Angeles-Area Men Among Those Charged in Scheme to Smuggle $3 Million in Military Aircraft Parts and Defense Items to Iran,” Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, October 28, 2016.

[2] Indictment, United States of America v. Hormoz Nowrouz, aka Hormoz Naurouz; Hanri Terminassian; Zavik Zargarian; ZNC Engineering, Inc.; and Vache Nayirian, Case No. CR-14-00598, United States District Court, Central District of California.