Author Topic: Woman accused of trying to smuggle military sensors to China arrested  (Read 1048 times)

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Offline old medic

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Woman accused of trying to smuggle military sensors to China arrested
18 October 2007

SAN DIEGO - A Chinese woman living in Connecticut sought to buy military equipment commonly used to gauge the power of nuclear explosions and export it to her native country, a federal grand jury charged Thursday.

Qing Li, 39, sent an e-mail to undercover federal agents in April to ask about buying the sensors, according to the indictment. She was arrested Sunday at New York's Kennedy Airport as she checked in for an Air China flight to Beijing, according to investigators for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A federal judge ordered the woman temporarily held in New York, pending a hearing in San Diego. Her lawyer in New York, Paul Goldberger, did not immediately return a call Thursday.

A co-conspirator based in China has not been charged and is not in custody, according to investigators.

The devices, called piezoresistive accelerometers and made by Endevco Corp. of San Juan Capistrano, can also be used for developing missiles or artillery. It is illegal to export the sensors without State Department approval.

The woman never received sensors from the undercover investigators, officials say, and it was unclear whether she ever procured weapons for export.

"These devices are simply not for export to China or anywhere else without explicit permission from the U.S. government," said Julie Myers, Homeland Security assistant secretary, who oversees illegal export investigations as head of ICE.

"Accelerometers are a designated defence article frequently used in missiles, 'smart bombs' and other major weapons systems and in the wrong hands, could prove catastrophic," she said.

According to the complaint, the defendant asked for as many as 30 of the $2,500 units to be shipped to mainland China via Hong Kong as "a favour for a friend in China." A co-conspirator allegedly told investigators the sensors were for "a special agency, a scientific research institute in China."

A message left with the Chinese Embassy in Washington was not immediately returned.

The woman lives in Stamford, Conn., and is a legal resident, according to ICE investigators. She came to the U.S. in 1996.

She faces as many as five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted.
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