Chinese National Pleads Guilty To Smuggling Counterfeit Tobacco Products To U.S.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Lin Xiao Wei, 32, a Chinese national, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence today to importing counterfeit tobacco products into the United States from China, earmarked for Rhode Island. Wei admitted to the court that beginning in February 2012, he arranged for the shipment of a 22-foot cargo container containing counterfeit cigarettes.
Wei, who has been detained since his arrest in Miami on June 4, 2012, by the Rhode Island Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) Task Force, pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence today to one count of causing the sale of counterfeit tobacco products.
Wei’s guilty plea was announced by Peter F. Neronha, United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, and Mark Dragonetti, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI).
Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., Wei admitted that he arranged for the purchase and shipment from China to the United States of a 20-foot cargo container of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes. The cargo container, which shipping documentation claimed contained 696 cartons of leather products, was shipped from a port in China on March 27, 2012.
Between the time Wei allegedly agreed to ship the fraudulent tobacco products to the U.S., and the arrival of the cargo container through a port in Miami on April 27, 2012, several wire transactions were sent to Wei for the cost of the product and associated shipping fees. Upon arrival in Miami, FDA-OCI and Homeland Security Investigations agents seized the container.
According to information presented to the court, on June 3, 2012, Wei met at a Miami hotel with a confidential informant who was working with investigators, and an undercover FDA-OCI Task Force agent from Rhode Island. Wei discussed the shipment of the fraudulent tobacco products, as well as previous shipments of counterfeit pharmaceutical products and the availability of other fraudulent products.
Wei is scheduled to be sentenced on April 10, 2013. Causing the sale of counterfeit tobacco products carries a maximum sentence of 3 years in federal prison; a fine of $10,000; and 3 years of supervised release.
U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha thanked Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the District of Southern Florida, and his staff, for their assistance in this matter.
U.S. Attorney Neronha also commended FDA-OCI Rhode Island Task Force members, Rhode Island State Police, East Providence Police and North Providence Police for their efforts in this multi-jurisdictional investigation.
U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha also thanked Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their assistance in this investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard B. Myrus and Adi Goldstein.