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Electronics Production | December 07, 2010

Man arrested for smuggling semiconductor devices to China

A Woodinville, Washington man made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle following his arrest in connection with an attempt to smuggle sensitive military technology to the People's Republic of China.
Lian Yang, 46, came to the attention of the FBI early last year when agents were tipped that Yang was looking for a way to purchase and smuggle certain restricted parts from the United States. Law enforcement agents and a person working with law enforcement posed as possible sources to monitor Yang’s efforts.

Yang was arrested on Dec. 3, 2010, when he was scheduled to meet with undercover agents to exchange cash for five of the parts he had ordered. Yang is charged by complaint with conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act.

According to the complaint unsealed, Yang attempted to purchase and export 300 radiation-hardened, programmable semiconductor devices that are used in satellites. The parts are export restricted and require export license or approval from the U.S. State Department authorizing the export of these items. Yang contemplated creating a shell company in the United States that would appear to be purchasing the parts, concealing the fact the parts were to be shipped to China. Yang planned that false purchase orders would be created indicating that parts that could legally be exported were being purchased, not restricted parts. Yang agreed to pay $620,000 to obtain the 300 parts through subterfuge.

According to the complaint, in the early spring and summer of 2010, Yang met with a person working with law enforcement to discuss his desire to purchase the parts and ways to get them. In September and October 2010, there was a series of meetings with undercover agents posing as contacts who could obtain the restricted parts. On multiple occasions Yang and the participants in the meetings discussed legal restrictions on exporting these types of parts. In late July 2010, Yang was detained when he returned from a trip to China and was questioned about some equipment in his luggage. Customs and Border Protection personnel as well as HSI agents reviewed with Yang the laws regarding technology going to China. Yang continued to try to purchase the parts for export, arranging to wire transfer funds to an account controlled by those he thought would assist him. In fact, the account was set up by the FBI.

The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act is punishable by up to five years in prison.

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