By Emmalie Armstrong, Export Solutions

Chinese national Fuyi “Frank” Sun has been arrested in connection with a plot to illegally export high-grade carbon fiber from the United States to China. Sun was arrested while traveling to New York to close a deal with a distributor of the fiber which is typically used for aerospace and military purposes. Turns out the “distributor” was actually some undercover agents for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Oops!

During conversations, Sun requested the term “banana” be used instead of carbon fiber and disclosed to that the fiber would be used by the Chinese military. Sun paid the agents $23,000 in cash for the fiber, and also paid an them an additional $2,000 to compensate for the risk of the illegal export. He requested the fiber be shipped in unmarked boxes with falsified documentation.

Toray M60JB-3500-50B is a high-grade carbon fiber that can be used in missiles, drones, military and nuclear applications and requires a license to China for Anti-Terrorism and Nuclear Non-Proliferation reasons.

In a press release, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez said: “Keeping items such as this high-grade carbon fiber, which can be used for military applications, from falling into the wrong hands possibly endangering national security, is a job HSI takes very seriously. Through this investigation, we have disrupted an alleged attempt to knowingly circumvent export controls and ensured this material will not be used for nefarious purposes.”

Sun is being charged on three counts: Attempting to violate IEEPA; conspiracy to violate IEEPA; and attempting to smuggle goods from the U.S. The maximum sentences for these three counts is 30 years in prison.

This is not the first time such fiber has been attempted to be acquired illegally from the U.S. In 2013 and 2014, two Chinese nationals were arrested and sentenced for their plot to illegally procure the fiber.

You can read the full press release here.

Emmalie Armstrong is a Trade Compliance Consultant with Export Solutions – a firm specializing in U.S. import/export regulations.