Two Chinese men accused of smuggling U.S. military sensors

| June 16th, 2014

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image courtesy of South China Morning Post

Two Chinese men allegedly bought and tried to smuggle U.S. Military sensors out of the United States South China Morning Post reported on June 16.

Bo Cai, 28, and Wentong Cai, a 29-year-old graduate student in Iowa, were both arrested after being caught in an undercover sting operation. They are facing charges of smuggling goods and violating the Arms Export Control Act, which requires that certain items being shipped to China, Syria and Sudan have an export license. The two could face up to 20-years in prison, and up to $1 million in fines. Bo has been in the Santa Fe County Jail since his December arrest, and Wentong was booked and released from the same space.

In December 2013, the two men visited Albuquerque to meet with an undercover U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agent about buying the sensors, which were created for military guidance systems. Wentong mentioned he was a fan of the popular TV-series “Breaking Bad”, and the agent gave him a tour of the locations used for the show. The official also took cell phone pictures of the two men.

Wentong, a graduate research assistant in veterinary microbiology and preventative medicine, apparently wanted to buy 20 sensors for Chinese research. The agent said the 29-year-old expressed interest in shipping them to China, although he knew it was illegal without a license.

The agent warned him the sensors had traceable serial numbers.

“(If) They run the numbers and they come back to me, we could all be arrested,” the agent said. “I just want you to understand.”

Wentong was taken into custody in January in Iowa. Bo was arrested at the Los Angeles airport in December, as he was about to board a plane to China. He apparently had an ARS-14 sensor in his possession.

A federal magistrate judge unsealed two search warrants related to the case on June 14. Much of the case remains sealed, however.

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