Russia's chief military prosecutor said in late February that a criminal investigation had been launched against a group of Russian Navy officials and a number of businessmen suspected of attempting to smuggle naval munitions worth a total of $18 million to Tajikistan for sale to China.
"According to investigators, all the munitions were transported by rail and listed in customs declarations as non-ferrous scrap metal," the source said.
Some media reports earlier said high-ranking Navy officials, including vice admirals and rear admirals, may have been involved in the scheme.
Under the scheme, the munitions were reportedly 'destroyed' and a commercial firm received over 1.6 million rubles ($45,000) from the federal budget for the work. In reality, the bombs and missiles were prepared for sale and smuggled abroad, the source said.
Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said the smuggling operation was prevented by "the Navy, in conjunction with the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office and the Federal Security Service (FSB)."
Police and military investigators have also launched a wave of probes at various ammunition storage facilities in Russia to uncover other possible cases of arms smuggling.