A Canadian man suspected of trying to send United States defense materials to China is in jail in Spokane.
Kevin Zhang, alias Zhao Wei Zhang, 41, was arrested trying to cross the border at Metaline Falls on Monday. He’d been wanted since January 2011 on a sealed warrant in federal court in San Diego that accuses him of conspiring to send devices used in tactical missiles and drones to the Chinese.
The charge of conspiracy to export defense articles without a license accuses Zhang, who is a naturalized Canadian citizen living in Calgary, of finding U.S. citizens to legally purchase gyroscopes and send them to China or send them to Canada, where they would then be shipped to China. Zhang has family in China, according to court documents.
Gyroscopes are classified defense materials, which are regulated by the Department of State. Though they’re available for purchase in the U.S., shipping the materials abroad requires a license. U.S. policy prohibits exports of such materials to China.
Investigators say Zhang contacted a man in San Diego on April 6, 2010, and discussed purchasing gyroscopes “at a premium price for the purpose of circumventing United States export laws and illegally shipping the Gyroscopes to China,” according to court documents.
Zhang also emailed an unnamed co-conspirator and client in China the next day and instructed him to find an export/import agent who does not “play by the rules” to help them get the gyroscopes into China, the indictment alleges.
An agreement was finalized on Oct. 1, 2010, for Zhang to ship three gyroscopes to China in exchange for $21,000, according to the indictment.
A federal grand jury in Southern California indicted Zhang on Jan. 14, 2011.
He appeared Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno.
Zhang faces a maximum of 5 years in prison if convicted.