China syndromeTwo Taiwanese nationals charged in military technology smuggling plot

Published 30 April 2012

Taiwanese nationals engaged in smuggling counterfeit consumer goods and crystal methamphetamine into the United States, are discovered to be working for Chinese intelligence agencies in an effort to smuggle sensitive U.S. military technology out of the United States

The Raven hand-launched was one of the items on the pair's shopping list // Source:

Two Taiwanese nationals, in federal custody on charges of attempting to import crystal methamphetamine, or “meth,” are now facing charges of violation of the Arms Control Act.

Hui Sheng Shen, also known as “Charlie,” and Huan Ling Chang, known as “Alice,” were initially arrested in February on charges of conspiracy to import fifty kilograms of crystal methamphetamines from Taiwan into the United States. The arrests originally stemmed from an investigation into the importation of counterfeit consumer goods.

“Initial investigations into counterfeit goods importation led federal law enforcement to a meth trafficking operation and an alleged plot to export some of America’s most sensitive weapons and related technology to China,” U.S. attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement.

Shen and Chang were among twenty-nine people arrested and charged with attempting to smuggle $325 million in counterfeit consumer goods from China, including fake Nike sneakers and Coach handbags, through a New Jersey port.

Businessweek reports that the two had negotiated with federal agents the selling fifty kilograms of crystal meth, and delivered one kilogram as a sample, concealed in tea bags hidden inside a computer in a cargo container.

In an amended complaint unsealed on 25 April, Shen and Change were charged with violation of the Arms Control Act.

Federal agents had developed a relationship with Shen and Chang in the course of the parallel investigations of counterfeit goods and drug importation. Shen and Chang supplied investigators with a list of sensitive defense material which, they said, they planned to return to their connections in China. Shen and Chang said that they were working with “a special adviser to a high-ranking Chinese government official,” and asked the agents about “nuclear technology, Global Hawk drones, Reaper drones, Raven drones, control panels of aircraft engaged in advanced radar warning systems, and F-22 stealth technology,” authorities said.

Shen and Chang told the investigators that their associates were “connected to the Chinese government, worked for a Chinese intelligence company like the CIA, and would be using government money to make the purchases,” according to Fishman.

On 24 February, FBI investigators brought manuals on two of the desired military assets. Shen and Chang photographed them, saying that they would delete the photos to avoid detection, and have an associate in China recover them from the camera’s memory card.

When asked how he would remove the military hardware, Shen said he would use techniques he developed in the drug trade, such as using scuba divers to carry parts out to a ship, or loading the parts onto a remote-controlled semi-submersible to transport the parts out to a ship offshore.

Before the photographs of the manuals could be deleted, Shen and Chang were arrested.