Chinese National Pleads Guilty to Participation in International Arms Smuggling Ring
Defendant Exported Semi-Automatic Weapons to China
Zhifu Lin, a Chinese national and resident of West Virginia, pled guilty today in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York before the Honorable Eric N. Vitaliano to violating the Arms Export Control Act and engaging in illegal weapons trafficking. According to court documents and statements in court, Lin and others, including a former member of the U.S. National Guard, exported multiple shipments of firearms from the United States to China. Lin and his accomplices secreted the weapons in packages and transported them to shipping companies, including a company in Queens, New York, to be sent to Shanghai. The weapons included numerous semiautomatic handguns, rifles, and shotguns. When sentenced, Lin faces up to 25 years in prison.
The guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York; Joseph Anarumo, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New York Field Division; Victor W. Lessoff, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service, New York Field Office; and Sidney Simon, Special Agent-in-Charge, Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office.
Authorities initially learned of the arms smuggling scheme after police in China seized a package containing firearms with defaced serial numbers, which had been shipped from Queens, New York. Upon learning of the seizure, U.S. law enforcement officials traveled to China to examine the evidence. The types of weapons seized by the Chinese authorities have been designated by the President of the United States on the United States Munitions List, and may not be exported without a license from the U.S. State Department. With the aid of forensic techniques, agents determined that one of the weapons seized in China had originally been purchased in North Carolina. Agents then traced the shipments back to Lin and his accomplices. Agents arrested Lin in West Virginia in April of this year. Today’s plea marks the fourth conviction for weapons trafficking and export violations as a result of this investigation.
“The defendant sought to profit by delivering dangerous weapons onto the international black market in blatant disregard of U.S. law,” stated U.S. Attorney Lynch. “We strictly enforce the laws that govern the sale and export of firearms, which protect the safety of our communities and our national security.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the federal agencies that worked closely together to investigate the case.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth DuCharme, with assistance from Trial Attorney David Recker of the Department of Justice Counterespionage Section. Assistance also was provided by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in the Northern District of West Virginia and the Eastern District of North Carolina.
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