China, US police crack major gun-running case

Updated: 2012-06-12 06:53


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BEIJING - Police from China and the United States have jointly cracked a major transnational arms trafficking case and arrested 28 suspects, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Among the suspects, 23 were arrested in China, while the other three were nabbed in the United States. A total of 105 guns, some 50,000 bullets and a "large amount" of gun components were confiscated in both countries, according to a statement released Monday by the ministry.

The investigation was initiated on August 25, 2011 when customs officers in Shanghai found standard arms and gun parts in packages en route from New York to Taizhou, a city in east China's Zhejiang province. The packages were declared as amplifiers, said the statement.

Chinese police arrested 32-year-old Wang Ting in Taizhou on August 26. Wang was suspected of assisting smuggling illegal firearms from the United States into China.

Lin Zhifu, a 25-year-old Chinese native who has been living in the United States since November 2009, allegedly organized a group to store and smuggle firearms through the Internet. The group mailed the arms through UPS Express to middle men like Wang, who would, in turn, sell the arms to buyers in China, according to the statement.

"As the arms involved in the case were mostly from the United States, the ministry reported to the United States promptly and requested the US side to launch an investigation into the source of the arms," said the statement.

A special team from Homeland Security Investigations for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement was sent to Shanghai to plan on the case with Chinese police in this January. Lin and 23-year-old Li Lilian were arrested later for illegally trading firearms in the United States.

On May 20, Joseph Debose, a staff sergeant with the US National Guard and also the kingpin of the case, was arrested in North Carolina. Debose was caught in possession of 12 guns that he was allegedly planning to ship to China, said the statement.

"The successful uncovering of the case has intimidated transnational gun smuggling groups and has effectively protected our country's social security from the potential harms of guns through illegal entry," said the statement.

The ministry vowed in the statement to strengthen international law enforcement cooperation in cracking down on trafficking and illegal trade of firearms as well as other criminal activities in a bid to ensure citizens' safety.