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February 26, 2009 

Chinese National Convicted of Attemping to Export Thermal-Imaging Cameras to China

Earlier this week, a federal jury in Los Angeles, California convicted Zhi Yong Guo, a resident of China, of conspiracy and exporting and/or attempting to export thermal-imaging cameras to China without the required Commerce Department export licenses.

Guo's accomplice, Tah Wei Chao, also a Chinese national, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and two counts of exporting and/or attempting to export restricted items.

According to the Justice Department, in March 2008 Chao ordered 10 thermal-imaging cameras (classified as ECCN 6A003 on the Commerce Control List) from FLIR Systems, Inc. for $53,000. Representatives from FLIR Systems repeatedly warned Chao that the cameras could not be moved outside of the United States without an export license issued by the Department of Commerce. Both Chao and Guo were arrested at Los Angeles International Airport in April 2008 after authorities recovered the 10 cameras that had been hidden in their suitcases, stuffed in shoes and concealed in clothing. Each of the cameras had a warning sticker stating: “This product is an export controlled item. Authorization by the U.S. Government must be obtained prior to any shipment outside of the United States.”

In addition to the 10 cameras intercepted by federal authorities at LAX, Chao admitted that, acting on Guo's behalf, he shipped three cameras to China in October 2007. The evidence presented during the at trial showed that Guo, an engineer and a managing director of a technology development company in Beijing, directed Chao to obtain the cameras for Guo’s clients, the Chinese Special Police and the Special Armed Police.

Guo is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Walter on May 11. Chao, who faces a statutory maximum penalty of 60 years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 16.

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