When the Tejas Taco House in Houston opened Wednesday morning, it was not business as usual.
Owner Abraham Solis saw FBI agents on his roof and next door at what everyone assumed was a high-tech manufacturer. But officials say the business was a cover.
In a case spanning from New York to Texas, the FBI has cracked an espionage ring that was shipping critical military technology to Russia.
Federal agents raided Arc Electronics, saying it was helping to export sensitive U.S. technology to the Russian military.
The FBI said the technology was being shipped out of New York City's JFK International Airport.
Court documents allege that since 2008, Kazakhstan-born businessman Alexander Fishenko "acted as an unregistered agent" who, along with 11 others, used a fake traffic light electronics company in Houston to feed Russia computer parts for its military.
"As the documents lay out, this person was trying to evade the export control act by getting classified electronics to the Russian military. That's spying," former Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Friedberg said.
According to the indictment, Fishenko may have done a lot of damage to national security, "sending hundreds of shipments" containing "thousands of controlled parts to Russia." Authorities estimate up to $50 million worth was stolen.
Fishenko apparently thought he could operate undetected in Houston.
"They're not going to go to a high profile area where the Russians have a high profile like New York or Chicago. They're going to go to a place where they can operate under the radar, and Houston is the perfect place for that," Houston Security Analyst Jim Conway said.
"This is obviously not an effort to just a get a couple of items to reverse engineer them, but the kind of effort to acquire technology in bulk, for deployment in systems," Friedberg said.
The bust comes four years into President Obama's "reset" policy with Russia, and the Moscow Times reported that Russian president was very pleased with Obama's kinder gentler approach. Wednesday's arrests may be one reason why.