Russian customs service exposes arms smuggling ring

Russia's customs service said Thursday it uncovered a ring of active and retired military officers suspected of involvement in stealing millions of dollars worth of missile components and smuggling them out of Russia. The Federal Customs Service said it has detained a dozen suspects and confiscated about 20 metric tons (22 tons) of missile components intended for smuggling. It said in a statement Thursday that the criminal ring had smuggled parts of S-75, S-125, S-200 and S-300 air defense missile systems to Russia's ex-Soviet neighbors of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine and also to Bulgaria. The statement said the alleged criminal group had been smuggling missile parts for at least two years. The state-run Channel One television cited the customs as saying that the suspects had stolen missile parts worth hundreds of millions of rubles (millions of dollars).