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Man Wanted for Smuggling Is Extradited

Times Staff Writer

A West German citizen, listed by the U.S. Customs Service as one of the 10 most wanted smugglers of U.S. high technology to the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc nations, has been extradited from Great Britain to stand trial in Los Angeles, the U.S. attorney’s office said Monday.

Werner Bruchhausen, 39, is the first accused technology smuggler ever extradited to the U.S., according to the Customs Service. He was arrested in Britain in May, 1985, and held at U.S. request.

“We have spread our net wide and have caught one of the biggest fish,” Customs Commissioner William von Raab said. “Werner Bruchhausen is one of the most important members of a small fraternity of shady characters who handle most of the transfers of forbidden technology to the Soviet Bloc.”

Bruchhausen was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on 16 counts of wire fraud in connection with charges of illegally exporting state-of-the-art technology through several California and two West German corporations that he controlled.

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He is accused of telling American manufacturers that he was buying the high-tech equipment for use in Arizona, Alaska and California, then sending it abroad while making false declarations to the Customs Service.

According to evidence at a trial of two associates named in an indictment five years ago, one of Bruchhausen’s companies bought more than $10.5 million worth of electronic, surveillance and communications systems between 1977 and 1980.

Commodities illegally exported included highly sophisticated microwave receiving systems capable of being used for a missile detection system, according to the government. U.S. Customs seized about $685,000 worth of equipment during its investigation, called Operation Exodus.


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