US Customs Nabs Spy Smuggling Ring
NEW YORK — ELEVEN men, including three Japanese businessmen, were charged in a scheme to smuggle and sell millions of dollars of illegal evesdropping devices in US ''spy shops.''
According to a six-count criminal complaint unsealed in a Manhattan federal court Wednesday, two Japanese corporations, Micro Electronics Ind. Co., Ltd. and T. Satomi & Co., and several US spy shops have been responsible for smuggling thousands of illegal bugging and wiretapping devices into the US during the last year.
A desk calculator described in the affidavit contained a transmitter allowing conversations to be monitored or recorded from a remote location. Other devices included transmitters hidden in ballpoint pens, electrical outlets, and telephone jacks.
More than 40 search warrants were executed by the United States Customs Service on spy shops in 24 cities around the country, including four in New York and three in New Jersey.
The complaint said criminals used the devices for counter-surveillance and other illegal ends, including kidnapping and extortion, US Attorney Mary Jo White said in a statement. Such practices were in violation of a 1968 law banning the manufacture, assembly, possession, or sale of any surreptitious device sent through the mail and transported in interstate or foreign commerce.