Federal authorities have accused a Hallandale Beach businessman of trying to
sell 10 Russian military helicopters for export to Zimbabwe.
JAY WEAVER, Miami Herald
A Hallandale Beach businessman has been arrested on charges that he tried to
sell 10 Russian military helicopters equipped with guns, rockets and bombs
to an undercover federal informant who told the dealer they were destined
Peter Spitz, 70, arrested last week, has a bond hearing set for Tuesday in
federal court in Fort Lauderdale.
Military exports to the African country are banned.
Spitz, owner of Russian Aircraft Services LLC, was first contacted in March
about a potential helicopter purchase by the informant for Immigration and
According to a criminal affidavit, the informant told Spitz he was
interested in buying seven MI-24 Russian attack helicopters and three MI-8T
Russian military transport helicopters.
Spitz said the price for each would be $750,000, the ICE affidavit said.
The broker and the informant negotiated the deal this spring, discussing
issues such as the potential buyer, required documents and aircraft
On March 25, the ICE informant told Spitz that he was arranging the sale to
a ”commercial entity set up by a cabinet member of the [Zimbabwe]
government,” the affidavit said.
Spitz reportedly asked for $1 million in five installments to secure the
He allegedly instructed the informant to make two initial ”test” deposits
of $11,000 each for Russian Aircraft Services LLC in separate accounts at
Colonial and Wachovia banks. Those April 3 transactions established Spitz’s
intent to sell the helicopters to the informant, in violation of federal
ICE special agent Joseph Skidmore said Spitz ”engaged in illegal brokering
activities” because he had not obtained a defense export license from the
U.S. government. He also noted that in April 2002, the government suspended
all export licenses for military hardware to Zimbabwe.Post published in: News