Armenian criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and hi-tech, with the recent list of adventures including a $160 Million Medicare fraud in U.S., 29 million strong botnet of virus-inflicted computers around the world and now an attempt to sell 18 grams of weapon-grade, highly enriched uranium.
Highly enriched uranium was smuggled from Armenia to Georgia in a lead-lined cigarette packet in March. Two men involved in transporting the substance were arrested in April.
In a closed hearing, Sumbat Tonayan, a former dairy factory owner and Hrant Ohanian, a retired nuclear physicist from a science institute in Armenia, pleaded guilty to smuggling the 90 per cent-enriched uranium from the Armenian capital Yerevan to Tbilisi. They face 10 years in jail. It remains unclear whether the 18g of uranium contained in the cigarette packet was a sample of a larger shipment, which has yet to be located.
Before his arrest, Tonoyan suggested to an undercover agent that he had more uranium to sell. Investigators are now working to determine the origins of the radioactive material.