August 6, 2012: British arms dealer Michael Ranger was convicted, on July 20th, of breaking arms embargoes against North Korea and Azerbaijan. He was sentenced to 42 months in prison. Ranger had sought to sell North Korean shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles to Azerbaijan (which has been under embargo by nations since its war with neighboring Armenia in the 1990s). North Korea is under even stricter embargoes. Ranger was a legitimate arms dealer and he used his knowledge of the laws covering the arms trade to develop a plan to move the weapons without being discovered. His precautions proved inadequate and he was detected, investigated, and prosecuted.
Iran, North Korea, and several other nations under arms embargoes will pay large bonuses to those who can successfully smuggle weapons, and other items, to order. Azerbaijan needed portable anti-aircraft missiles, North Korea had some for sale and Mr. Ranger thought he could make the connection. But over the last decade anti-smuggling efforts have become a lot more effective. Intelligence agencies are more involved, using more powerful tools (intelligence analysis software, electronic, orbital and UAV surveillance, and larger informant networks) and working more closely with other agencies (like the U.S. Treasury Department, which can persuade foreign banks to cooperate). A lot more smugglers are getting caught. This must be having an impact because the bonuses offered keep getting larger, especially after another unsuccessful smuggler goes to prison.