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Press Release

Five Queens Men Charged With Kidnapping And Murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, James Smith, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Edward A. Caban, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging DONXING ZHENG, WANGCHAO HE, a/k/a “Ah Chao,” JIANGNAN LIN, a/k/a “Xiao Pang,” a/k/a “Little Fatty,” DONG LIU, a/k/a “Ah Dong,” and SUI ZHANG, a/k/a “60,” with kidnapping resulting in the death of Peng Cheng Li (the “Victim”), kidnapping conspiracy, and conspiring to distribute ketamine.  HE, LIN, LIU, and ZHANG were arrested today and will be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Victoria Reznik.  ZHENG was arrested on a complaint on July 31, 2023, and presented on August 1, 2023, before Judge Reznik.  ZHENG will be arraigned on the Indictment at a later date.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, these five defendants lured Peng Cheng Li to a location with the intent to hold him for ransom, assaulting him and transporting him to the resulting of his death.  Today’s arrest is a testament to my Office’s dedication to protecting the safety and security of our citizens and pursuing those who dare violate that to justice.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said: “These five defendants deprived the victim Peng Cheng Li of his freedom and ultimately his life when they allegedly kidnapped, assaulted, and murdered him in a failed attempt to collect a payment.  This type of barbaric behavior has no place in our society and will not be tolerated.  The FBI will be sure that anyone attempting to use violence to make money will be brought to justice.”  

NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said: “As demonstrated by this case, the dangerous combination of illicit drugs and brutal violence will never be tolerated in New York City.  Today’s charges are the next step in our journey toward justice for Mr. Li.  The tireless work of NYPD investigators, FBI agents, and prosecutors from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District will ensure that all involved in these grievous crimes are held accountable for their despicable acts.”

As alleged in public court filings and the Indictment unsealed today in White Plains federal court:[1] 

On or about July 19, 2023, ZHENG, HE, LIN, LIU, ZHANG, and others known and unknown used an Internet-based cellphone application to call a restaurant to lure the Victim, an employee of the restaurant, to a location in Flushing, Queens.  When the Victim arrived at that location, ZHENG, HE, LIN, LIU, ZHANG, and others known and unknown abducted, assaulted, and held the Victim for the promise of payment.  Thereafter, ZHENG and others known and unknown drove the Victim through, among other locations, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Westchester County, and eventually took the Victim to New Hampshire.  At some point after he was abducted, the Victim died, and ZHENG and others known and unknown buried the Victim’s body in a forest in New Hampshire.

*                *                *

HE, 29, LIN, 22, LIU, 35, ZHANG, 22, and ZHENG, 28, all of Queens, New York, are each charged with kidnapping resulting in death, which carries a maximum potential sentence of death or life in prison; kidnapping conspiracy, which carries a maximum potential sentence of life in prison; and conspiracy to distribute ketamine, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the work of the FBI and the NYPD. 

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U. S. Attorneys Ryan W. Allison and Jared D. Hoffman are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated November 29, 2023

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 23-408