Texas Girl Arrested for Attempted Smuggling to Russia

A 24-year-old Texas beautician was arrested on July 15 after trying to smuggle three night-vision rifle scopes into Russia aboard a JFK-Moscow flight in March. Although rifle scopes, which allow riflemen to see more precisely at further distances, are widely available in the U.S., exporting them without a license is illegal.

Anna Fermanova, born in Latvia but raised in Texas, claims she was just doing a favor for her husband who lives in Moscow and wanted the so-called hunting gear for his friends. Prosecutors believe there’s more to the story; Anna’s husband Alexander was recently deported to Moscow following a conviction on charges of fraud and identity theft. Furthermore, Anna recently received several thousand-dollar wires from her husband, none of them exceeding $10,000, which is the tipping point at which banks must report transactions.

Anna allegedly hid the rifle scopes in a pair of UGG boots in her suitcase (though any good packer knows she could have been doing so just for cushioning protection). The rifle scopes were detected and removed before she left, but she was allowed to make the flight to Moscow. It was assumed she would not return to the U.S., but when she did on July 15, she was arrested.

Law enforcement officials find the hunting line hard to buy. A former NYPD detective Bo Dietl said, “These are used specifically for an assassination. You’re not going to hunt deer with a super scope. That’s crazy. You could take someone out with one of these scopes in the dead of night from up to a mile-and-a-half-away. I have friends in Iraq who use these. These are the real deal.”

Weapons expert Dan Wasserbly confirmed Dietl’s assertion, saying the scopes Fermanova purchased – $7,000 Raptor 4X Night Vision Weapons Sight – are intended for machine guns, not for hunting rifles. If they are indeed “serious military hardware” that even “the average American soldier wouldn’t use,” why exactly are they available for general public consumption in the U.S.?

Anna’s lawyer Scott Palmer says any assertion that his client is in some way linked to terrorism or Russian spies is absurd. She was unaware that she was not allowed to take the gear her husband had requested out of the country, and she had no idea she would be arrested upon her return. (Didn’t she think to ask why the equipment was confiscated?) Apparently, she was simply back in town to celebrate her birthday with her family.

Released on $50,000 bail, Anna is currently under house arrest in Plano, Texas.

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