Russia: FBI arrested Russian on Pacific Island

Anatoly Medetsky

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the FBI arrested a Russian citizen in the Northern Mariana Islands, a Pacific territory overseen by the U.S., then took him to Florida. U.S. court documents show the individual indicted on charges related to the export of defense items.

Russia’s Embassy in Washington learned of the detention of Dmitry Makarenko from his relatives, the ministry said in a statement Saturday on its website. Makarenko was detained on Saipan with his wife, children and parents as they landed at the airport on Dec. 29, the ministry said.

Makarenko was taken to Florida, the ministry said, citing preliminary information. The Russian Embassy in Washington is seeking access to Makarenko, and the ministry is demanding an explanation for the arrest. The U.S. courts’ electronic filing network, Pacer, identifies the man as Dmitrii Makarenko.

A U.S. court in Miami indicted Makarenko in June 2017 on charges of conspiracy to export defense items without a license, attempting to export such items and money laundering, according to documents on the electronic filing site. The activities took place from April to November 2013, the documents showed.

Documents at the time of indictment said Makarenko, who the U.S. said lived in Vladivostok, would order items such as night-vision scopes – which are subject to a license – and ship them to an associate in Florida.

Earlier this week, Russian authorities detained an American, Paul Whelan, in Russia on suspicion of espionage. Whelan, a former Marine who is the director of global security for Michigan-based auto-parts supplier BorgWarner Inc., was arrested “during an espionage operation,” Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, said on Monday.

Whelan’s detention came two weeks after Maria Butina, a Russian gun enthusiast, pleaded guilty in the U.S. to conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent.

Moscow and NATO countries have routinely conducted spy exchanges in the past, including the swap of 10 Russian sleeper agents for four alleged double agents in 2010.