A Rosemead man was convicted Wednesday of federal charges for conspiring to smuggle Chinese-made surface-to-air missiles, which are designed to shoot down aircraft, into the United States.
Yi Qing Chen, 46, was convicted of five felony counts by a Los Angeles federal jury that heard two weeks of testimony, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The guilty verdict in relation to the missile plot is the nation's first conviction at trial under an anti-terrorism statute that outlaws the
importation of missile systems designed to destroy aircraft, federal prosecutors said.
Evidence in the case showed that Chen and co-defendant Chao Tung Wu met with an undercover FBI agent and agreed to arrange the importation of shoulder-fired QW-2 missiles, as well as launch and operation hardware for the missiles, from the People's Republic of China.
The missiles were never delivered because Chen and Wu were arrested in 2005 before the deal was concluded, according to the U.S. government.
In addition to being conbicted of conspiracy to import missile systems designed to destroy aircraft, Chen was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, distribution of cocaine, trafficking in counterfeit cigarettes and trafficking in contraband cigarettes.
Chen is set to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer on Feb. 7. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years behind bars for the missile smuggling conviction, and a maximum of life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Wu died while awaiting sentencing.
The case against the men was the result of ``Operation Smoking Dragon,'' an FBI-led undercover investigation into smuggling operations in Southern California.
The probe and a related investigation in New Jersey led to the indictment of 87 people on charges related to international conspiracies to smuggle counterfeit currency, drugs and other contraband into the country, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The operation resulted in four indictments in Los Angeles that named 34 defendants, all of whom have now been convicted, prosecutors said.