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California Businessman Indicted on Smuggling Charge

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2000
Daniel S. Burgess

Jeffrey Jhyfang Lo, owner of East Technoservice Co. in Cypress, faces up to 10 years in federal prison for allegedly attempting to smuggle a defense-grade camera to the People's Republic of China. Lo also has been charged with a related money laundering count that carries a maximum penalty of an additional 20 years. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on Feb. 29.

Prosecutors said that Lo attempted to leave the country Feb. 12 with a Radiance HS infrared camera and two lenses from Raytheon Sensors and Electronic Systems in El Segundo, which he had bought from an undercover FBI agent. He allegedly transferred nearly $142,000 from Taiwan to make the purchase.

Rod Staudinger, resident agent in charge of the Orange County bureau of the US Customs Service in Irvine, which set up the sting operation with the FBI, explained that companies must file with the US Department of Commerce and State Department to legally export technology on the US munitions list, such as the Radiance HS. Licenses are specific to the particular model and to the destination.

"To our knowledge," Staudinger said, "Lo has never applied for a license, never inquired into getting one."

Lo offered no explanation for his actions, nor did he express any indication that the camera would be used for a civilian application, prosecutors said. He reportedly told the undercover agent that he was purchasing it for Chinese State Ship building Corp., a state-owned conglomerate of 58 companies that is based in Beijing and Shanghai. "He represented himself as a buyer of tech for the Chinese government," said Staudinger. "It was obvious to us that it would be used for military applications."

In its 1999 report, US Rep. Christopher Cox's Select Committee on US National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China identified the Chinese corporation as part of that country's integrated defense program.

The Radiance HS is a 256 x 256-pixel, InSb-based IR camera with a spectral response of 3 to 5 µm and frame rates up to 1800 fps. Prosecutors noted that the camera is suitable for target acquisition and tracking and for missile guidance systems. Raytheon markets the device for numerous commercial, industrial and scientific applications, including combustion research, rotating equipment analysis and nondestructive materials testing.

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