WASHINGTON – A California man who allegedly tried to sell an F-5 jet fighter to Iran has been busted in an international sting devised by Philadelphia-based Homeland Security agents.
The F-5, owned by another California man who leased it to Hollywood studios for use in movies, was offered for sale for $3.6 million during an undercover sting that stretched from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to Budapest, Hungary.
According to court records, the California man, Marc Knapp, was arrested in July and charged with violating U.S. arms export laws, according to court documents.
Knapp is also charged with trying to export F-14 ejection seats, anti-gravity flight suits and search and rescue radios, which are primarily used as an emergency locator beacon.
Knapp was not immediately available for comment. U.S. officials declined to comment.
The investigation began a year ago, when a Homeland Security informant introduced undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Philadelphia to Knapp, according to court documents.
Knapp allegedly told the agents he could "compartmentalize," and justify the sale to Iran, because he believe the United States could shoot down any F-5.
"Whoever your customer is, I'm happy with," he allegedly said, according to U.S government documents.
At the meeting in Hungary, according to government documents, Knapp offered to have the F-5 flown from its base in Van Nuys, Calif. to Delaware, where it would be crated and shipped to Iran.