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Two Chinese Nationals Are Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Smuggle Defense Systems in Violation of Arms Export Control Act

A federal judge has sentenced two Chinese nationals for conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), 22 U.S.C. §2751, and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 U.S.C. §2778, by scheming to illegally export defense articles with military application to the People Republic of China, the U.S. Department of Justice announced April 23 in a press release. The technology at issue relates to line-of-sight stabilization and precision motion control systems.

Bo Cai, of Nanjing, China, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, and his cousin, Wentong Cai, of Chifeng, China, was sentenced to 18 months. In entering guilty pleas before Judge Martha Vazquez of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, the Cais admitted that they conspired with each other to illegally export to China sensors primarily manufactured for sale to the U.S. Defense Department without first obtaining the required export license. The AECA and the ITAR prohibit the export of defense-related materials from the United States without obtaining a license or written approval from the U.S. State Department.

Wentong Cai admitted that while he was in the United States attending Iowa State University on a student visa, he was enlisted by Bo Cai to acquire the sensors under the ruse that they would be used as part of his graduate work at Iowa State’s microbiology program. After an undercover agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) responded to Wentong Cai’s overtures, both Cais went to New Mexico and obtained a sensor, intending to smuggle it to China. Bo Cai was arrested at a Los Angeles airport as he tried to board a flight on December 11, 2013, after the sensor was discovered hidden in a computer speaker in his luggage. Wentong Cai was later arrested on January 22, 2014, in Ames, Iowa.

Bo and Wentong Cai will be deported after completing their prison sentences.

The HSI office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, led this investigation with assistance from the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Defense Security Service, the HSI offices in Iowa and Los Angeles, and the FBI. Iowa State University also cooperated in this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dean S. Tuckman and Fred J. Federici of the District of New Mexico prosecuted this case with assistance from Deputy Chief Deborah Curtis and Trial Attorneys David Recker and Brian Fleming of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.


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