Chinese Woman Nabbed in Conspiracy to Export Military Equipment to China
by Jim Kouri, CPP
A Chinese national who lives in Connecticut has been indicted by a San Diego federal grand jury for conspiring to purchase and export military-grade accelerometers used in "smart bombs" and missiles from the United States to the People's Republic of China.
Qing Li, 36, of Stamford, Conn., is charged with attempting to buy and export piezoresistive accelerometers for what her co-conspirator described as a "special" scientific agency in China. The charges are the result of a seven-month undercover investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). ICE and DCIS agents arrested Li at New York's JFK International Airport Oct. 14 as she was checking in to board a flight to China
The piezoresistive accelerometer measures massive shocks and has many military applications, including use in "smart" bombs and missile development. The accelerometer is designated as a defense article on the United States Munitions List and cannot be exported from the United States without the written permission of the United States Department of State. The United States maintains an arms embargo against China, and the State Department's policy is to deny permission for the export of defense articles to China.
"The controlled military sensors that were the focus of this technology procurement plot are extremely sensitive devices used in the development of missiles and artillery and the calibration of large-scale nuclear and chemical explosions," said Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. "I applaud the agents who infiltrated this foreign procurement network and prevented these items from being illegally exported to China."
"Accelerometers are a designated defense article frequently used in missiles, ‘smart bombs' and other major weapons systems and in the wrong hands, could prove catastrophic," said Julie L. Myers, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE. "These devices are simply not for export to China or anywhere else without explicit permission from the U.S. Government. Stopping the illicit export of weapons technology is paramount to the national security of our country and the public safety of all."
"This investigation and prosecution demonstrate the firm commitment we in federal law enforcement have to prevent the illegal exportation of items on the United States Munitions List," said United States Attorney Karen P. Hewitt. "This plot was foiled and the defendant was apprehended because of the tireless efforts and hard work of agents from ICE and DCIS."
According to court papers, from April 2007 to October 2007, Li and her co-conspirator used e-mail messages and telephone calls to negotiate the illegal export transaction with an undercover ICE agent in San Diego, who repeatedly stressed the illegality of the transaction. Li and her co-conspirator urged the undercover agent to deliver the accelerometers directly to China, advising the undercover agent that if the accelerometers tested properly, large orders would follow. According to court papers, during a three-way telephone call, when the undercover agent advised Li and her co-conspirator that the accelerometers are used to measure massive explosions, and even nuclear explosions, Li's co-conspirator stated that "our client knows exactly what this thing is used for."
"This investigation signifies the aggressive pursuit by the DCIS, in cooperation with our other federal law enforcement partners, to identify and pursue prosecution of those who illegally export or steal our sensitive military technology," said Rick W. Gwin, Special Agent in Charge for the DCIS Western Field Office.
Li, a legal permanent resident of the United States, is currently in federal custody in New York. She is scheduled to appear Oct. 22 before United States Magistrate Judge Steven Gold in the Eastern District of New York to determine whether she will be returned to San Diego to answer to the indictment. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.