ICE deports Pennsylvania convicted criminal to Belarus

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PHILADELPHIA — A Belarus man convicted of illegally exporting sensitive goods and technology was returned to his native country Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

George Tsarik, 30, a citizen of Belarus who was residing in West Palm Beach, Fla., and convicted in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for conspiracy to illegally export defense articles, was removed.

Following his Nov. 1, 2012, criminal conviction, Tsarik was sentenced to two years in federal prison. ERO Philadelphia Criminal Alien Program (CAP) officers encountered Tsarik Jan. 4, 2013, at the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center in Philipsburg, Pa. ERO Philadelphia lodged an immigration detainer on him for being in violation of U.S. immigration law based on his criminal conviction. On Feb. 3, Tsarik entered ICE custody at the completion of his federal sentence and after ERO Philadelphia officers served him a notice to appear in U.S. immigration court charging removability pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act, as having engaged after admission in espionage/sabotage/export of sensitive goods, technology and information. On March 13, an immigration judge ordered Tsarik removed from the United States to Belarus.

"Yesterday's removal of George Tsarik is the latest example of ERO Philadelphia's commitment to identifying and removing serious convicted criminals and those that threaten our national security," said Thomas Decker, field office director for ERO Philadelphia.

From Aug. 26, 2011, to Feb. 9, 2012, George Tsarik illegally exported night vision devices including Raptor 4x night vision rifle scopes, multi-adaptable night tactical imaging systems (MANTIS) and Aquila night vision scopes without first obtaining from the Department of State a license or written authorization for such export. As part of the conspiracy, one or more co-conspirators from Belarus purchased the defense articles from sellers in the United States and directed the sellers to ship them to Tsarik. Tsarik arranged for the defense articles to be illegally exported out of the United States in various ways including circuitous shipment routes through Philadelphia.

Tsarik arrived at the Minsk International Airport in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday and was turned over to Belarus law enforcement authorities by ERO officers.

ERO's Criminal Alien Program identifies potentially deportable aliens incarcerated in jails and prisons throughout the United States. CAP officers interview and review inmates' biographical information. Although ERO initiates removal proceedings against criminal aliens through the CAP, these individuals may remain in prison or jail to complete their criminal hearings or sentences. Under CAP, ERO uses a risk-based approach to make determinations about the detention and arrest of criminal aliens, with priority given to cases involving individuals deemed to be a security or public safety threat.

George Tsarik's criminal case was investigated by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Philadelphia special agents.

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