Aeroflot Airlines crew members helped smuggle $50 million worth of stolen iPads, iPhones, and more into Russia, a government investigation has found

Aeroflot Airlines. Dmitry FeoktistovTASS via Getty Images
  • The US arrested 10 people in connection with a plot to use current and former Aeroflot Airlines crew members to smuggle $50 million in stolen electronics to Russia.

  • The Department of State has revoked 113 visas of Aeroflot employees in connection to the scheme. 

  • Aeroflot reported a loss of $485 million in August due to stunted travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A US investigation found current and former Aeroflot Airlines employees helped to smuggle $50 million in stolen electronic devices to Russia.

The investigation, conducted by the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, the New York City Police Department, and other agencies, alleges 10 defendants of smuggling $50 million worth of electronic devices using current and former Aeroflot Airlines workers. The devices included iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. 

An inspection of crew members’ luggage found millions of dollars of electronic devices, “many of which” had been stolen, per a release. Federal officers arrested eight leaders of the scheme Monday afternoon, while two others are fugitives.

The Department of State has revoked 113 visas of Aeroflot employees in connection with the scheme. 

“As alleged, the defendants were members of an international smuggling ring that used a network of operators here and in Russia to circumvent US export laws and regulations,” United States Attorney DuCharme stated in a release.

The airline industry in particular has suffered from lost revenue and service this year as the COVID-19 pandemic stymied travel, per the International Air Transport Association. Aeroflot reported a loss of $485 million in August.

Police in the UK had arrested another former flight attendant for dealing drugs after getting laid off.

Aeroflot Airlines, one of the world’s oldest carriers, is currently valued at $12.5 million.

Aeroflot Airlines did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

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