In November 1996, a California firm contacted Commerce's Export Enforcement Office in Los Angeles telling them the President of a small engineering consulting firm in Melbourne, Florida, was attempting to acquire industrial pumps on behalf of end users in Libya. The information was passed to the Commerce Miami Field Office and an investigation was initiated. Over a six month period Commerce Special Agents painstakingly collected information and evidence on the company's activities without alerting them of the interest of U.S. law enforcement authorities. Subsequently a search warrant was granted and in the face of overwhelming evidence the company's President, John Strome, agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Export Administration Regulations by exporting industrial equipment and machinery to Iran, Iraq, and Libya via intermediaries in Canada and the United Kingdom. He also agreed to assist Commerce Special Agents in their investigation.
Using sophisticated investigative techniques, Commerce Special Agents used the information provided by Strome to shut down the operation of a major diverter of U.S. origin industrial goods to Iran and Iraq. In March 1999 they arrested an Iraqi national, Abdulamir Mahdi ,who used two Toronto companies, OTS Refining Equipment Corporation and Tech-Link Development Corporation of Toronto, Canada, to buy U.S. oil-field and industrial equipment for diversion to Iran and Iraq. The arrest was made while Mahdi was on a business trip to Florida. Simultaneously, officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police executed search warrants at Mahdi's offices and residence in Canada in support of this combined international investigation.
On April 23, 1999, a U.S. District Court judge in Orlando, Florida sentenced John R. Strome, President of the Florida-based firm, Brevard International Technical Services, to two years of imprisonment and two years of probation for violating U.S. restrictions on exports to embargoed destinations. In imposing the sentence, the judge took into account Strome's substantial assistance in providing Commerce Special Agents with information and evidence on other firms and individuals involved in circumventing U.S. restrictions on exports subject to the EAR to embargoed destinations.
On November 19, 1999, Abdulamir Mahdi, the former associate of Strome, was sentenced by a U.S. District Court judge in Orlando, Florida, to 51 months of imprisonment, a $7,500 criminal fine and 3 years of probation for violating U.S. export controls restricting trade with Iran and Iraq.
As a result of this investigation Commerce Special Agents Roy Gilfix and James Hoyos were granted the Department of Commerce's Silver Medal for the successful investigation and prevention of illegal exports to terrorist supporting countries.