Avanessian was indicted Dec. 30, along with Farhad Masoumian, 42, of Tehran following a joint investigation by the customs agency, the FBI and the IRS. The pair are charged with smuggling and money laundering. A third man, Amirhossein Sairafi, also of Iran, was charged separately in a criminal complaint filed last week. He was arrested this week in Frankfurt, Germany, according to authorities. None of the defendants could be immediately reached for comment.
Authorities said Masoumian, based in Iran, would place orders with Avanessian, who owns an import-export company called XVAC on Winchester Avenue in Glendale. Avanessian would ship the material to the United Arab Emirates, where Sairafi would send them on to Iran, the indictment alleges.
The defendants would “relabel the contents of the shipments in order to mask the true contents and to avoid interception by U.S. customs officials,” according to the indictment. In most cases, Avanessian described the material on airway bills as “spare parts” and falsely declared that their value was under $2,500, the threshold for filing requirements that would have drawn greater scrutiny from customs officials.