News and Press Releases


December 14, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - JOHN DENNIS TAN ONG, 37, of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, was sentenced to prison this week by United States District Judge Julie Carnes on a charge of  conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act, a law designed to prohibit the export of military articles, including M-4 rifles, which are commonly used by U.S. military here and overseas.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “The illegal export of military weapons is a serious crime. It allows other countries to learn about our weapons and perhaps ultimately use those weapons against our own troops. The M-4 rifle is a staple used by our soldiers and its technology should not be bought and sold as part of a criminal scheme. The Justice Department and our office will continue to focus on military weapons cases, to protect our soldiers and our security.”

“This week’s sentencing underscores our commitment to ensuring that those who are willing to put America's national security at risk are held accountable,” said Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Custom's Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas. “We are committed to pursuing technology and weapons smuggling crimes and continuing to lead the fight in counter proliferation investigations.”

ONG was sentenced to 1 year, 9 months in prison, to be followed by 1 year of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to the charge on May 5, 2011.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In early 2009, ICE received information that ONG's co-conspirator was purchasing gun parts and accessories related to the M-4 rifle. Because these weapons parts are designated on the United States Munitions List, exporting them outside of the United States is prohibited by the Arms Export Control Act unless the shipper possesses an export license issued by the State Department.  ONG never applied for or obtained an export license.

During the course of the investigation, an ICE agent began to communicate with ONG's co-conspirator. Believing that he was communicating with one of his United States suppliers, the co-conspirator placed an order for gun parts capable of assembling up to ten M-4 rifles. He further requested that the items be shipped to an address located in the Philippines. 

After placing the order and agreeing upon the price, the co-conspirator and the ICE agent began to discuss how the items would be shipped from the United States.  The co-conspirator asked ONG if he would receive the gun parts and ship them to the Philippines. ONG, a Canadian citizen who operated an export business in California during this time, agreed to ship the items knowing the gun parts required an export license.

After receiving the money from the co-conspirator in the Philippines, ONG wired payment to the ICE agent from a bank account he previously established in the United States.  He also provided a specific address to where the gun parts should be shipped.  After the ICE agent expressed reluctance about mailing the parts to ONG, ONG advised the co-conspirator on how the ICE agent could ship the items to the Philippines without detection by U.S. Customs. ONG then provided the name and location of a freight forwarding company in the Atlanta area that would accept the package without identification, and ONG provided instructions on how the gun parts should be packed in order to avoid detection by x-ray machines or U.S. Customs agents.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of ICE Homeland Security Investigations.

Assistant United States Attorney Tracia M. King prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is



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