Jacksonville Woman Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Illegally Exporting Maritime Raiding Craft and Engines to China

Yang Yang (34, Jacksonville) has pleaded guilty to conspiring to submit false export information through the federal government’s Automated Export System and to fraudulently export to China maritime raiding craft and engines in violation of United States (U.S.) law, and also to attempting to fraudulently export that equipment in violation of U.S. law. Yang faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, Yang was employed by Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd., a company headquartered in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China. At the direction of co-conspirators in China, she attempted to order from a U.S. manufacturer seven combat rubber raiding craft equipped with engines that can operate using gasoline, diesel fuel, or jet fuel. These vessels and multi-fuel engines are used by the U.S. military and can be operated after being launched from a submerged submarine or dropped into the ocean by an aircraft. No comparable engine is manufactured in China. When the U.S. manufacturer suggested that Yang purchase cheaper gasoline-fueled engines, she insisted that she wanted to purchase the military-model multi-fuel engines.

To induce the manufacturer to sell this equipment, Yang falsely represented that her customer was an entity called United Vision Limited in Hong Kong, rather than Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. in Shanghai. One of Yang’s Chinese co-workers had told her that American manufacturers would be more likely to sell to an entity in Hong Kong rather than one in mainland China. By misrepresenting what company was buying the equipment, and where it was located, Yang caused the entry of false information in the Department of Commerce’s Automated Export System in violation of federal law.

When interviewed by federal agents on Oct. 17, 2019, Yang admitted that she had only one client, Shanghai Breeze, and that based on her communications with a co-conspirator, she knew that the combat raiding craft were not intended for Hong Kong, but instead, mainland China.

On Aug. 13, 2020, Yang’s co-defendant, Zheng Yan, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to submit false export information and to fraudulently export the raiding craft and engines in violation of U.S. law. The trial of their remaining co-defendants, Fan Yang and Ge Songtao, is scheduled to begin on Feb. 1, 2021.

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 is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Coolican and Heather Schmidt, Senior Trial Attorney, Counterintelligence and Export Section, U.S. Department of Justice.

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    The Department of Defense (DOD) has made progress implementing initiatives to enhance capabilities that are used to identify friendly force locations during close air support (CAS) missions, but GAO identified additional actions that are needed to strengthen these efforts. Specifically, DOD has made limited progress in implementing 10 changes the department approved to address gaps in the interoperability of digital communications systems used to conduct CAS, hindering efforts to improve the speed and accuracy of information exchanges. DOD's efforts to assess the interoperability of digital systems used to perform CAS have been limited in scope. GAO found that DOD had formally assessed two out of 10 approved changes during joint service and multinational events, and these assessments were not conducted in a training environment that replicated capabilities of near-peer adversaries. DOD implemented a new capability in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to help identify the positions of friendly forces during CAS missions. However, GAO found that DOD did not provide adequate training for personnel who operate it or conduct an evaluation to resolve implementation challenges that have hampered its performance. DOD conducts evaluations of training programs for forces that participate in CAS missions, but GAO identified two areas where DOD can improve its efforts. First, the Army and Marine Corps have not systematically evaluated the effectiveness of periodic training for ground observers providing targeting information due to a lack of centralized systems for tracking training data and the absence of designated entities to monitor service-wide training. Second, the use of contract aircraft for training increased substantially between 2017 and 2019, but DOD has not fully evaluated the use of non-military contract aircraft to train air controllers for CAS (see fig.). GAO found that differences between U.S. military aircraft and contract aircraft (e.g., airspeed) can result in a misalignment of aircraft capabilities for certain types of training events. Without evaluating CAS training fully, DOD cannot have assurance that its forces are prepared to conduct CAS missions safely and effectively. Number of Hours Non-Military Aircraft Were Used to Train for Close Air Support for Fiscal Years 2017 through 2019 The use of ordnance delivered by aircraft to support U.S. military forces that are in close proximity to enemy forces on the ground requires detailed planning, seamless communications, and effective training. Mistakes in communications or procedures used to identify and maintain an awareness of the positions of friendly forces on the battlefield during CAS can result in the loss of U.S. military personnel. Senate Report 116-48 and House Report 116-120, accompanying bills for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, included provisions for GAO to evaluate issues related to friendly-force identification capabilities in CAS missions. Among other things, this report evaluates the extent to which DOD has (1) implemented initiatives to enhance friendly-force identification capabilities during CAS, and (2) evaluated training for forces that participate in CAS. GAO analyzed documentation and interviewed officials regarding DOD efforts to develop and implement friendly force tracking capabilities for CAS; reviewed CAS training programs; and analyzed training data, including the number of hours that DOD used non-military contract aircraft for CAS training from 2017 through 2019. GAO is making 11 recommendations to DOD, including that DOD implement and assess initiatives to improve the interoperability of digital systems used in CAS and take additional steps to evaluate the training for certain forces that participate in CAS missions. DOD concurred with the recommendations. For more information, contact Cary Russell at (202) 512-5431 or RussellC@gao.gov.
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  • ISIS Militants Charged With Deaths Of Americans In Syria
    In Crime News
    Two militant fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a foreign terrorist organization, are expected to arrive in the United States today in FBI custody on charges related to their participation in a brutal hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four American citizens, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria.
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  • Remembering the Victims of PS752
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Report Detailing Government Efforts to Combat Robocalls Released to Congress
    In Crime News
    The Department of [Read More…]
  • Investment Professional and Author is Sentenced for Defrauding National Women’s Sorority
    In Crime News
    A Florida woman was sentenced to 24 months in prison today for her role in an investment management scheme.
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  • Arrest of Eight Pan-Democratic Politicians in Hong Kong
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Iran Threatening to Expel UN Investigators
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • New Jersey Man Indicted for Promoting Tax Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Pemberton, New Jersey, man appeared in court yesterday on a federal grand jury indictment charging him with conspiring to defraud the United States, assisting in the filing of false tax returns, obstructing the internal revenue laws, and failing to file a tax return, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. The Sept. 2, 2020 indictment was unsealed following the court appearance.
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  • California Nebula Stars in Final Mosaic by NASA’s Spitzer
    In Space
    The image composite is [Read More…]
  • Taiwan Individual and International Business Organizations Charged with Criminal Conspiracy to Violate Iranian Sanctions
    In Crime News
    Chin Hua Huang, 42, a resident of Taiwan, was charged in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia with participating in a criminal conspiracy to violate U.S. export laws and sanctions against Iran.  Also charged was Taiwan business organization DES International Co., Ltd. (DES Int’l) and Brunei business organization Soltech Industry Co., Ltd. (Soltech).
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles with Gates Chili Central School District to Ensure Equal Access for Students with Service Animals
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with the Gates Chili Central School District in Rochester, New York, to resolve the department’s lawsuit alleging disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
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  • Malaysia Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Request for Statements of Interest: FY20 China Programs
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    Bureau of Democracy, [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles with Minnesota-Based Company to Resolve Discrimination Claims Under the Immigration and Nationality Act
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement with WinCraft, Incorporated (WinCraft), a Minnesota-based sports manufacturing company with locations in Iowa, Florida, and Washington. The settlement resolves claims that WinCraft violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by requiring lawful permanent residents to provide specific work authorization documentation without any legal justification because of their immigration status. 
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  • Pennsylvania Attorney Sentenced for Role in $2.7 Million Ponzi Scheme
    In Crime News
    An Allentown, Pennsylvania, attorney was sentenced today to 78 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his role in a $2.7 million investment fraud scheme that victimized his law clients.
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  • Operation Legend: Case of the Day
    In Crime News
    Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend.  Today’s case is out of the Northern District of Ohio.  Operation Legend launched in Cleveland on July 29, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.
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  • Our Deepest Condolences on the Passing of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]