Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez for the Middle District of Florida announces the return of an indictment today of four individuals, including two Chinese nationals, an active-duty United States Navy officer, and his wife, on charges relating to a conspiracy to unlawfully smuggle military-style inflatable boats, with Evinrude MFE military outboard motors, to the People’s Republic of China. The Navy officer and two other defendants have also been charged with conspiring to violate firearms law, and the Navy officer has been charged with an additional firearms-related offense and with making false official statements.
The four defendants charged in the indictment are:
Fan Yang, 34, a naturalized citizen of the United States and Lieutenant in the United States Navy residing in Jacksonville, Florida; Yang Yang, 33, wife of Fan Yang, and a naturalized citizen of the United States residing in Jacksonville, Florida; Ge Songtao, 49, a citizen and resident of the People’s Republic of China; and Zheng Yan, 27, a citizen and resident of the People’s Republic of China.
The defendants were arrested on Oct. 17, 2019, and are currently detained.
All four defendants have been charged with conspiring to submit false export information and to fraudulently attempt to export articles from the United States. Additionally, Yang Yang, Ge Songtao, and Zheng Yan have been charged with causing the submission of false and misleading information into the U.S. Automated Export System, and fraudulently attempting to export seven vessels and eight engines. If convicted for conspiracy or for the submission of false export information, the charged defendants each face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. If convicted on the attempted-smuggling charge, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
Fan Yang, Yang Yang, and Ge Songtao are charged with other offenses as well. All three have been charged with conspiring to violate laws prohibiting an alien admitted under a nonimmigrant visa from possessing a firearm and prohibiting the transfer of a firearm to a nonresident. Fan Yang has also been charged with making a false statement to a firearms dealer, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, and with making false official statements in his application for a security clearance, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security; and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael Coolican and Heather Schmidt, Senior Trial Attorney, Counterintelligence and Export Section, U.S. Department of Justice.