the takedown

Chinese National Sentenced for Smuggling Military-Grade Equipment to China

A Chinese national was sentenced yesterday to 30 months in prison for his part in an elaborate scheme to smuggle high tech military weapons of war overseas.

In March, Kan Chen, 26, pled guilty to conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations; attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations; and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

“Today's sentencing is the result of exceptional investigative work by the Office of Export Enforcement and our law enforcement partners to disrupt an illicit network and prevent sensitive technology from falling into the wrong hands,” said Special Agent in Charge, Nasir Khan, of the U.S. Department of Commerce-Bureau of Industry and Security’s Office of Export Enforcement Washington Field Office.

Following an eight-month long investigation, Chen was arrested by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) investigators on June 16, 2015.

According to court documents, from July 2013 through his arrest in June 2015, Chen caused or attempted to cause the illegal export of over 180 export-controlled items, valued at over $275,000, from the United States to China.  Over 40 of those items – purchased for more than $190,000 – were sophisticated night vision and thermal imaging scopes, which are designated by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations as U.S. Munitions List defense articles and can be mounted on automatic and semi-automatic rifles and used for military purposes at night. 

The manufacturer describes these scopes as “an ideal product for force protection, border patrol officers, police SWAT and special operations forces providing them the tools they need to be successful in all field operations both day and night.  Uncooled thermal imaging cuts through dust, smoke, fog, haze, and other battlefield obscurants.” 

According to a statement from the Department of Justice, these rifle scopes “are weapons of war, and Chen’s smuggling and subsequent sale of these military-grade items outside of the United States directly undermines our nation’s national security interests.”

During the sentencing hearing, the government stressed how Chen’s actions were especially harmful because he sold this military technology indiscriminately. The hardware could have ended up in the hands of any number of dangerous persons, including agents working for foreign governments, bad actors, or brokers.

From there, “the military technology contained inside these items could have been reversed engineered or used anywhere in the world for a variety of purposes by oppressive regimes, terrorists, or others to threaten the United States or its allies’ military advantage or to commit human rights abuses,” according to the DOJ’s statement. 

Posted in The Takedown

Tags: tracing firearms, military, smuggling, Office of Export Enforcement

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