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We Build Alaska

Feds send armed agents to raid Hillside home and arrest man accused of trying to sell snowmachines in Russia

Around 6 am Tuesday morning, around 20 federal agents donning full tactical gear and assault rifles raided the Hillside home of Anchorage resident Sergey Nefedov. The agents were part of a Department of Justice Task Force comprising the FBI, Homeland Security, and Department of Commerce.

Nefedov and Mark Shumovich, a Washington resident, are facing multiple federal charges stemming from their attempt to export snowmachines to Russia. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in March 2022, the federal government placed sanctions and restrictions on the export of goods to Russia. Before that, it was perfectly legal to export snowmachines to Russia.

After the arrest of Nefedov and Shumovich, the Department of Justice put out a more than 1,000 word press release titled, “Two Russia-Born U.S. Citizens Arrested for Conspiring to Send $500,000 Worth of Luxury Goods to Russia.” Nefedov is from Kamchatka, which, much like Alaska, is full of mountains and not many roads. Snowmachines are an essential piece of transportation for many people who live there.

The press release stated, “This case was coordinated through the Justice Department’s Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.”

Kamchatka is 4,500 miles from Ukraine, and is closer to Alaska than Ukraine.

The press release was picked up by numerous local and national news outlets that regurgitated the government’s narrative but failed to ask any real questions. What the government left out of their press release was the dawn raid of Nefedov’s Hillside home where his 14-year-old son and girlfriend were handcuffed and detained for nearly an hour.

Nefedov has lived in Anchorage since 2004. He has no criminal background and is charged with non-violent crimes. The spectacle of the armed raid and lengthy press release is clearly the government trying to put on an anti-Russia show and make an example of Nefedov and Shumovich. It’s too bad the media, up until this article, has been complicit in the charade.

Today, Nefedov was arraigned and a bail hearing was held at the federal court in Anchorage. The government filed a motion late last night requesting Nefedov be detained and not released on bail.

Adam Alexander, a senior lawyer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska, made the bizarre suggestion that the Russian Federation would furnish Nefedov with a replacement travel document in order to flee the country. Nefedov’s public defender, Ben Muse, pointed out the ridiculousness of that suggestion, and added that if Nefedov were to flee to Russia he would likely be conscripted to fight in Ukraine.

Alexander also accused Nefedov of being an expert smuggler, saying this proves he has the skills to flee. Alexander left out the fact that U.S. Customs seized the snow machines in Seattle and they have never left the country. Some expert smuggler!

Nefedov has two children who are American citizens, a longtime American girlfriend, a home in Anchorage, and extensive friends in Anchorage. This includes me for 20 years. Pretrial Services recommended that Nefedov be released without restrictions.

After a long discussion about whether or not Nefedov is a serious flight risk, while acknowledging that he is not a danger to the community, Judge Scoble granted Nefedov bail. The conditions are that Nefedov must wear a GPS monitor, remain at home with some exceptions for things like work or meeting with his lawyer, not go within two miles of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and not leave the Anchorage Bowl.

Alexander, clearly under orders from his D.C. bosses, appealed Scoble’s ruling. Scoble agreed to hold Nefedov until Monday at noon so the bail matter can be appealed to U.S. District Court Judge Josh Kindred. That hearing has been scheduled for 10:30 am on Monday. Nefedov will have sat in jail for six days by then.

Illustrating the political nature of this case, during the hearing Alexander accused Nefedov of “furthering the interests of the Russian Federation.” Even Judge Matthew Scoble found that preposterous, saying that it seemed clear Nefedov was trying to further his own interests by making money.

Contrast Nefedov to Garret Elder. Elder was charged in 2023 with defrauding more than 170 Alaskans out of around $26 million. Elder eventually pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska cut a deal with him, recommending just seven years. After a lengthy sentencing hearing with many defrauded members of the public voicing strenuous complaints against the FBI’s and U.S. Attorney’s Office kid-glove treatment of Elder, Judge Kindred rejected that deal and in November sentenced Elder to ten years in prison.

According to this ADN article, “Elder lived a lavish lifestyle during the years he was trading, the memorandum said, detailing that he rented private jets or helicopters to take him on expensive vacations, he bought real estate, a camper and a truck, and he donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of investors’ money.”

Elder’s home was not raided by federal agents.

At the point of his sentencing in November 2023, there was no indication that the FBI had ever searched Elder’s home for assets or funds. As of right now, there’s no indication that Elder’s wife, Sarah Elder, who had directly received over $500,000 of the fraudulently obtained funds, and who had benefited from the millions that her husband had secured through fraud, has ever been handcuffed or charged with any federal crime.

Nefedov, whose alleged crimes did not harm a single person, is facing multiple charges and dozens of years in prison. His house was raided, and his partner and son were handcuffed. All of this because he wanted to sell snow machines to Russians on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Brandon Waddle, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Anchorage Field Office, reached by phone refused to answer questions from the Landmine, including if it is normal protocol to send armed agents to execute search and arrest warrants for those charged with non-violent crimes. Waddle pointed me to FBI Public Affairs Officer Chloe Martin. She did not answer a phone call or return a message.

Reagan Zimmerman, the public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska, also refused to answer questions from the Landmine at today’s hearing. She referred me to their lengthy press release that did not include any information about the dawn raid of Nefedov’s home. In fact, no one in the government I spoke with would answer any questions about the charges or the raid.

Keep in mind this is the same FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) that mistakenly stormed the Homer residence of Paul and Marilyn Hueper in 2021 thinking they had Nancy Pelosi’s laptop. And the same FBI and DOJ that ran a con job against the late Senator Ted Stevens, which was eventually overturned and dismissed due to “significant, widespread and, at times, intentional misconduct.”

In a recent Anchorage Daily News piece “Let’s set the record straight: Ted Stevens was framed,” Charles Wohlforth walked through the FBI and DOJ abuses and lamented “I was unjust to Ted Stevens. I think a lot of us were.”

As I sat there watching Nefedov being arraigned for violating the “Export Control Reform Act and Expert Administration Regulations” by trying to sell snow machines in Russia – with Leslie Esbrook, a D.C. lawyer from the National Security Division of Main Justice on the telephone line – I could not help but think how right Mr. Wohlforth was to worry about the “excessive power of prosecutors.”

This is a developing story. The Landmine will be providing detailed coverage and any new developments.

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Nonsense watcher
1 month ago

Landmine — you deserve an award for the crap you bring to light. You really do. I have given up on reading the media; I read very limited stuff, you’re number one on my favorites.

slipstream
1 month ago

Why are you making a big honking deal about sending armed agents to deal with a crime? If I get a speeding ticket, it is issued by an armed police officer.

Slight hit of sanity
1 month ago
Reply to  slipstream

10000%. It is completely and totally reasonable for the feds to send armed officers to the home of someone smuggling hundreds of thousands of dollars of commercial goods to Russia. If you don’t want armed federal agents showing up at your home, don’t engage in international smuggling. It really is that simple.

Ohcomeon
1 month ago
Reply to  slipstream

What if a cop pointed a gun at your face while asking for your license and registration?

(Whatever happened to no incarceration for nonviolent offenses?)

Michael Ellington
1 month ago
Reply to  slipstream

How about if you get pulled over by a trooper for breaking a speed or traffic law, he calls for a few back up units, holds you at gunpoint till they arrive, stuffs and cuffs your entire family, kids included, and hauls you to jail in a show of force not neccesary? A half million dollars in snowmobiles does not a criminal make. It’s a paltry amount when it comes to vehicles of any type. Sure, there are sanctions. Yes, the law must be upheld. However, the blatant ramping up of targeted prosecutions, and “make an example of them” blitzkrieg… Read more »

The Alaska Poaster
1 month ago

Mr. Nefedov is lucky to still be breathing, given the track record of federal agencies when they launch early-morning raids. Perhaps the midnight sun of June was a saving grace as 6am can hardly be considered “pre-dawn”. That, and the fact that ATF wasn’t involved.

Reggie Taylor
1 month ago

He’s lucky, all right. Had he violated Vlad’s laws he’d be headed to almost certain death at the hands of Ukrainian defenders, after a short stint in a Siberian gulag. Frankly, if the feds were to just shoot foreign criminals within our borders, maybe a few million of them would go back home where they belong. Then maybe Vlad would have enough cannon fodder to actually take Ukraine?
Nah…………….

Dan
1 month ago

I don’t really understand what you want the prosecutors to do that wouldn’t involve “excessive power”. We have a real problem with over-charging in order to get a plea (as demonstrated by the Elder case). We also have a real problem with the FBI laundering the lies of informants to reach unjust convictions (as demonstrated by the Stevens case). But, currently, we don’t see much evidence of either in this case. We should be skeptical of DoJ allegations, and we should be incensed when they over-charge. But, we also should recognize that we have tasked them with the job of… Read more »

Anchorage person
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

The charges against Stevens were dismissed due to disclosure violations. A mere technicality. Stevens was given special treatment due to his job and status.

Dan
1 month ago

We don’t need to get into it all here. Stevens has a very problematic legacy with regards to corruption in Alaska, and when we judge that legacy it takes a bit of nuance. Many people have used the DoJ abuses as an excuse to rehabilitate Stevens’ reputation much more than is deserved. I think that there is a decent chance that the DoJ could have secured a conviction without prosecutorial misconduct. That all said, when we judge DoJ actions around the Stevens trial, their actions were illegal and unconscionable. 15ish years later we should still be angry about it. They… Read more »

Slight hit of sanity
1 month ago

Jeff, I’m sorry this is happening to your friend, but to be clear Nefedov is accused of attempting to evade federal sanctions and smuggle half a million dollars of prohibited goods to Russia via Hong Kong, while fraudulently claiming they were destined for Korea. This is an extremely serious crime given the context of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine and attempt to destabilize Western societies. Folks in Kamchatka (some of whom are fighting and murdering innocent people in Ukraine right now) are not entitled to luxury Western snowmachines while they aid and abet Putin’s war. If he’s guilty (and it’s almost… Read more »

Media Critic
1 month ago

While Jeff and the Landmine occasionally do some excellent reporting, such as regarding the Clark Penny affair, Jeff undercuts any claim to legitimate journalism by publishing biased crap such as this article to support a friend. His most laughable argument is that Kamchatka is 4,500 miles from Ukraine, as if that were relevant. That’s like saying Florida is 4k miles from Alaska so shipping contraband to Florida makes the shipper innocent in Alaska.

floridawoman
1 month ago

When it comes to Stevens and the corruption gorge two words say it all, but are not in that ADN cover piece. Massage chair. A bribe is a bribe regardless of size. Which is neither here nor there unless facts are important.
Oh never mind look a baby musk ox.

Ronald Reagan was a cheerleader
1 month ago

This morning I slept in, had a lovely breakfast, and went for a walk before a nice BBQ dinner with the family. How did I accomplish this? Easy, I have this one weird trick called not trying to break federal law and smuggle half a million dollars of machinery into Russia. Crazy, I know. But it works.

Rick G
1 month ago

Here in Anchorage we’ve had people accused of violent crimes that were then released on their own recognizance and they went on to comment more violent crimes. And yet, here we have someone they want to continue to detain without bail for selling snowmachines illegally. Yes, it was illegal, he should receive some sort of punishment, but let’s be real, keeping him in jail until his court date?

Anchorage person
1 month ago
Reply to  Rick G

Learn the difference between federal and state.

Anchorage person
1 month ago

I know Sergey. He is hardly an upstanding citizen. He’s crazy and everyone who knew him had a notion that he was into nefarious activities. Every single crime from camping without a permit to smoking is enforced by an armed law enforcement officer. This guy shouldn’t get any special treatment.

Alaskan First
1 month ago

His Courtview shows he is a perpetual scofflaw.

Michael Ellington
1 month ago

Media complicity with this brand of prosecutorial and DOJ abuse is nothing new. Kudos to you for spotlighting this. Laws must be followed, but federal over-reach and branding of citizens for propaganda must be stamped out. Keep it up Jeff.