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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chinese National Sentenced To 108 Months' Imprisonment For International Weapons Trafficking

Defendant Exported Military-Style, Semi-Automatic Assault Weapons, Purchased In North Carolina, From Queens To Shanghai


Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, Zhifu Lin, a Chinese national and resident of West Virginia, was sentenced to 108 months’ imprisonment for violating the Arms Export Control Act and engaging in illegal weapons trafficking. From 2010 to 2012, Lin and others, including a former member of the United States Marine Corps and National Guard, exported multiple shipments of high-powered firearms from the United States to China.  Lin and his accomplices secreted the weapons in packages and transported them to shipping companies in Queens, New York, and elsewhere, to be sent to Shanghai, China’s largest city.  The weapons included dozens of semi-automatic handguns, rifles, shotguns, and military-style assault weapons.

The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York,  John P. Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security, 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; Toni Weirauch, 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 uncovered the weapons trafficking ring 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, American 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 by a former United States Marine in North Carolina.  Agents then traced the shipments back to Lin and his accomplices.  Agents arrested Lin in West Virginia in April 2012, and he has been in federal custody ever since.  Lin, who originally entered the United States in 2009 on a student visa and briefly attended an American university, faces deportation upon the conclusion of his prison term.

“ The defendant traded the promise of the American dream for a jail cell and deportation by flagrantly violating federal gun laws and export regulations.  All those who seek profits through the black market for illegal weapons – whether a former U.S. Marine who traded his honor for easy money, or a foreign national who took advantage of our country’s freedoms – will face the full force of the law.  We will not cease in our efforts to stem the flow of illegal weapons that threaten the safety of our communities and our national security,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.  Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the federal agencies that worked closely together to investigate the case.

The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge Eric N. Vitaliano.  To date, four individuals have been convicted of weapons trafficking and export offenses in connection with this case.

The government's case was 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 and Trial Attorney Dan Stigall of the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs.

The Defendant

Age: 27

Counterintelligence and Export Control
Firearms Offenses
National Security
Updated September 2, 2016