Boston, MA – LAWFUEL – A Pasadena, California man, and a man from the city of Shenzhen, in the People’s Republic of China, were charged last night in federal court in Boston with conspiring to export tightly-controlled defense articles to China. The two men had left Boston earlier in the day, and were arrested in Los Angeles as they departed from a cross country flight.
United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Robin M. Avers, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New England, announced today that JOHN CHU, age 44, of Pasadena and ZHU ZHAOXIN, age 55, of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China, were charged in a criminal Complaint with conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act.
An affidavit filed in support of the Complaint alleges that from in or about May, 2003 to May, 2004, CHU, a U.S. citizen, ZHU, a Chinese national, and others, conspired to purchase defense articles, including pulsed traveling wave amplifiers, also known as traveling wave tubes or TWTs, and export them to the People’s Republic of China, despite their awareness that such items cannot be shipped lawfully to China. According to publicly available information, TWTs are used in a range of radar, satellite and other electronic applications. It is alleged that as part of the scheme, CHU, ZHU and others engaged in extensive negotiations with undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents posing as arms dealers to obtain the items for unlawful export.
Negotiations to purchase the TWTs took place from March to May, 2004. At a meeting in Boston on May 6 with an undercover ICE agent, CHU and ZHU agreed to purchase the TWTs. They told the undercover agent that they wanted to make sure that some other items they had just purchased, believing them to be controlled defense articles, could be safely exported from the United States before formally placing the order for the TWTs. In fact, the other items were inoperable mock-ups of genuine defense articles. Following the meeting, CHU and ZHU boarded an America West plane from Boston to Los Angeles. Both were arrested in Los Angeles after they deplaned and had retrieved their luggage.
If convicted on this charge, CHU and ZHU each face up to 5 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. ZHU and CHU are expected to appear today in federal court in Los Angeles. The government will seek to have them returned to Boston for further proceedings.
The investigation is continuing.
The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with assistance from the Department of Commerce’s Boston Office of Export Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Ricciuti and Gregory Moffatt in Sullivan’s Anti-Terrorism Unit, which is responsible for certain non-terrorism programs related to national security.