LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Rosemead man was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Monday for his role in a conspiracy to smuggle Chinese-made surface-to-air missiles into the United States.
Yi Ting Chen, 47, was convicted last October of five felony counts by a Los Angeles federal jury that heard two weeks of testimony.
The guilty verdict in relation to the missile plot was the nation’s first conviction at trial under an anti-terrorism statute that outlaws the importation of missile systems designed to destroy aircraft, federal prosecutors said.
Evidence in the case showed that Chen and co-defendant Chao Tung Wu met with an undercover FBI agent and agreed to arrange the importation of shoulder-fired QW-2 missiles — which are primarily designed to shoot down aircraft — as well as launch and operation hardware for the missiles from the People’s Republic of China.
The missiles were never delivered because Chen and Wu were arrested in 2005 before the deal was concluded, according to the U.S. government.
In addition to being convicted of conspiracy to import missile systems designed to destroy aircraft, Chen was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, distribution of cocaine, trafficking in
counterfeit cigarettes and trafficking in contraband cigarettes.
U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer also ordered Chen to pay restitution of about $520,000 to Philip Morris in connection with the counterfeit cigarettes, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark R. Aveis said.
Wu died while awaiting sentencing.
The case against the men was the result of “Operation Smoking Dragon,” an FBI-led undercover investigation into smuggling operations in Southern California.
The probe and a related investigation in New Jersey led to the indictment of 87 people on charges related to international conspiracies to smuggle counterfeit currency, drugs and other contraband into the country,
according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The operation resulted in four indictments in Los Angeles that named 34 defendants, all of whom have been convicted, prosecutors said.
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