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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Accused confederate of Russian fugitive arrested, charged by Justice Division


Authorities in Croatia have arrested a person accused of engineering a cross-country fugitive escape that allowed a Russian man to get again to his house nation — the newest transfer in a world cat-and-mouse sport between U.S. authorities and felony suspects with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The fees have been unsealed in a single day in New York, the place federal prosecutors mentioned Vladimir Jovancic, a citizen of Bosnia, orchestrated the escape of Artem Uss from Italy.

Uss is the son of Alexander Uss, a former Russian governor who’s a detailed ally of Putin’s. After the son’s escape, the daddy publicly thanked Putin. On Tuesday, State Division spokesman Matthew Miller introduced a $7 million reward for data resulting in Uss’s seize.

Final 12 months, Artem Uss and others have been charged with working a enterprise scheme to violate sanctions by, amongst different issues, delivering delicate U.S. pc gear with navy functions to prohibited Russian entities. American officers mentioned a few of that pc gear was later discovered on Russian weapons programs seized on the battlefield in Ukraine. The indictment additionally charged a conspiracy to smuggle lots of of tens of millions of barrels of oil from Venezuela by means of a entrance firm in Germany.

Artem Uss was arrested in Milan on Oct. 17, 2022, as he tried to fly house to Russia. American officers then started the method of searching for his extradition to the US to face trial.

5 months later, an Italian court docket accepted his extradition. A day after that ruling, authorities mentioned, Uss minimize his ankle bracelet monitor and fled the nation in a automotive.

Russians charged with violating sanctions

In a letter to a federal decide in Brooklyn, prosecutors saiod Jovancic “and different people affiliated with a Serbian organized crime group” organized Uss’s flight from justice.

First, authorities mentioned, Jovanovic pretended to be delivering groceries to Uss’s house. The actual goal of the go to was to make preparations for the escape.

On the day of the escape, Jovancic “escorted Uss right into a automotive and supplied Uss with bolt cutters, which Uss used to take away his digital ankle monitor and throw it out the window,” mentioned the letter to U.S. District Decide Rachel Kovner.

Jovancic and his group then allegedly drove Uss into Slovenia.

“Over the following a number of days, Jovancic and his co-conspirators shuttled Uss by means of Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier than crossing into Serbia,” the letter charged. Jovancic was paid about 50,000 euros for the work, in response to U.S. authorities.

The Justice Division filed the letter hoping to keep away from a repeat of Uss’s escape — prosecutors requested the decide to difficulty an order of detention, so Jovancic wouldn’t be let loose of jail whereas he fights extradition to the US.

Jovancic “has no ties to the US, whereas sustaining a community of felony associates within the Balkans, Russia and elsewhere,” Assistant U.S. Legal professional Artie McConnell wrote within the letter. “If launched, Jovancic would undoubtedly flee the jurisdiction and search refuge in Russia or one other non-extradition nation.”

Jovancic was indicted on costs of obstructing justice and instigating or aiding escape.

Aaron Schaffer contributed to this report.

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