TAMPA, Fla. - A 47-year-old man pleaded guilty on Thursday to a violation of the Arms Export Control Act following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE's) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigation.
According to the plea agreement, Henson Chua, of Manila, Philippines, knowingly and willfully caused the temporary import into the United States of an item on the U.S. Munitions List, an unmanned aerial vehicle. Chua initially listed the item for sale on eBay Inc. and then engaged in communications with undercover agents from ICE HSI, which culminated in the recovery of the item by U.S. officials.
"The unlawful import of military technology poses a serious threat to our national security," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Tampa. "ICE is committed to working with the U.S. Attorney's Office and military investigators to protect the American public and our military troops overseas from this kind of technology falling into the wrong hands."
ICE is the only federal law enforcement agency with full statutory authority to investigate and enforce criminal violations of all U.S. export laws related to military items, controlled "dual-use" commodities and sanctioned or embargoed countries. Although ICE, through its predecessor agency (U.S. Customs Service) has had more than 30 years of success as the nation's lead law enforcement agency investigating violations of export control laws, the magnitude and scope of the threats facing our country have never been greater than they are today. ICE agents in the field who conduct counter-proliferation investigations focus on the trafficking and illegal export of the following commodities and services: weapons of mass destruction materials; chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear materials; military equipment and technology; controlled dual-use commodities and technology; firearms and ammunition; and financial and business transactions with sanctioned and embargoed countries and terrorist organizations.
Chua faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.