An investigation in San Diego has led a grand jury to hand up an indictment against a Connecticut woman alleging a “conspiracy to procure the illegal export of military grade accelerometers from the United States to the republic of China.”
The accelerometers the woman, Qing Li, allegedly conspired to acquire, according to a the United States Attorney’s Office, are used to measure massive shocks. A press release says they have many military applications, including use in smart bombs and missile development. It’s illegal to transport them out of the United States without the permission of the government, and the U.S. government currently has an arms embargo against China.
According to the press release, an undercover operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Defense Criminal Investigation found that Li and a co-conspirator used e-mail messages and phone calls to try and negotiate the sale of accelerometers from an undercover ICE agent.
A couple of quotes from the press release:
“The controlled military sensors that were the focus of this technology procurement plot are extremely sensitive devices used in the development of missiles and artillery and the calibration of large-scale nuclear and chemical explosions. I applaud the agents who infiltrated this foreign procurement network and prevented these items from being illegally exported to China,” said Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
“Accelerometers are a designated defense article frequently used in missiles, ‘smart bombs’ and other major weapons systems and in the wrong hands, could prove catastrophic,” said Julie L. Myers, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “These devices are simply not for export to China or anywhere else without explicit permission from the U.S. Government. Stopping the illicit export of weapons technology is paramount to the national security of our country and the public safety of all.”
Li is currently in custody in New York. She is scheduled to appear in front of a judge in New York next week to see if she will be ordered to fly to San Diego to answer the charge against her. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.