Chinese National Sentenced to 97 Months Imprisonment for ITAR Violations

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On January 26, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Zhen Zhou Wu, 46, a Chinese national who traveled to the United States on an annual basis using business visas, was sentenced to 97 months imprisonment for conspiring to illegally export U.S. Munitions List (USML) parts and export restricted sensitive technology to the PRC over a period of ten years, illegally exporting electronics to the PRC on 14 occasions between 2004 and 2007, and conspiring to file, and filing, false shipping documents with the U.S. Department of Commerce from 2005 through 2007. Wu was also ordered to pay a fine of $15,000, a special assessment of $1,700 and forfeit $65,881.71.

On May 17, 2010, Wu was convicted of conspiring from 1997 to 2007 to unlawfully export to the PRC military electronics and export restricted electronics components and illegally exporting such parts to the PRC on numerous occasions between 2004 and 2007. At trial, the government proved that the defendants' illegal enterprise involved the use of Chitron Electronics, Inc. ("Chitron-US"), a Waltham Massachusetts company Wu owned and controlled. Wu used Chitron-US to procure export restricted equipment from U.S. suppliers and then export the goods to China, through Hong Kong. The exported equipment is used in electronic warfare, military radar, fire control, military guidance and control equipment, missile systems, and satellite communications.

Wu founded and controlled Chitron, including its headquarters in Shenzhen, China, Chitron-Shenzen, and its U.S. office located in Waltham, Massachusetts. Using Chitron, Wu targeted Chinese military factories and military research institutes as customers of Chitron, including numerous institutes of the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation ("CETC"), which is responsible for the procurement, development, and manufacture of electronics for the Chinese military, including the People's Liberation Army. Indeed, Wu referred to Chinese military entities as Chitron's major customer since as early as 2002.

The Department of Defense's Defense Technology Security Administration has concluded in a report filed with the Court that the defendants' activities seriously threatened "U.S. national and regional security interests." According to the Department of Defense, the parts the defendants were convicted of illegally exporting are "vital for Chinese military electronic warfare, military radar, fire control, military guidance and control equipment, and satellite communications." Further, the illegally exported parts are "precisely the [types of] items ... that the People's Liberation Army actively seeks to acquire."

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, "This defendant violated U.S. export laws and compromised our national security for more than a decade. He conspired to procure U.S. military products and other controlled electronic components for use in mainland China - for military radar, satellite communications, and guidance systems. Today's sentence acknowledges the seriousness of those crimes and should send a strong message to anyone considering violating our export laws."

"This case demonstrates the importance of safeguarding America's sensitive technology against illicit foreign procurement efforts and should serve as a warning to others who seek to covertly obtain or provide such materials to advance foreign military systems. I applaud the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who helped bring about this successful outcome," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

"This sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime and sends a strong message that we will pursue, arrest and prosecute others who flout our laws by diverting sensitive U.S.-origin items through third countries," said John McKenna, Special Agent in Charge of the Commerce Department's Office of Export Enforcement Boston Field Office.