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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit

Taiwanese exporter pleads guilty to conspiring to export missile components to Iran

MIAMI - A Taiwanese national pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to illegally export dual-use commodities capable of enhancing military or nuclear potential, from the United States to Iran, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC).

Yi-Lan Chen, 40, appeared in federal court on May 13 and pleaded guilty to all the charges against him and his Taiwan-based corporation, Landstar Tech Company Limited. The charges included conspiracy to and attempting to export and cause the export of commodities from the United States to the Islamic Republic of Iran, in violation of the U.S. imposed embargo against Iran and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

On the conspiracy count, Chen faces a maximum statutory term of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million, and Landstar Tech faces a statutory maximum fine of $1 million. Chen's sentencing is scheduled for July 30 at 10 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan.

Chen, who was residing in Taiwan during the time of the acts, communicated and coordinated with co-conspirators in the United States, Iran, Hong Kong and elsewhere, and facilitated the attempted export of dual-use goods from the United States to Iran. In so doing, Chen communicated with and took requests for U.S. manufactured goods from customers in Iran. Chen and Landstar Tech then purchased those goods and misrepresented the identity of the ultimate end-user.

Chen made arrangements with a federal agent acting in an undercover capacity to have the U.S. goods hand-delivered by the undercover agent to Chen in Guam. Chen then planned to transport those goods back to Taiwan and then on to his customers in Iran. Chen and Landstar Tech also received payment for the purchase and shipment of the U.S. goods from his customers in Iran and then used funds received from the customers in Iran to pay the U.S. companies.

Chen and Landstar Tech conspired to and attempted to export and cause the export of 120 circular hermetic connectors (Model MIL-C-81703/Part No. 8403-7-50P) and 8,500 glass-to-metal seals of various item numbers. The circular hermetic connectors and the glass-to-metal seals were manufactured in the United States and are dual-use commodities. Dual-use commodities are goods or technologies that have a commercial application, but also could make a significant contribution to the military or nuclear potential of other nations and could be detrimental to the foreign policy or national security of the United States.

Chen ultimately failed to deliver the circular hermetic connectors or the glass-to-metal seals to his customers in Iran due to law enforcement intervention. DOC agents seized the first attempted shipment of 60 glass-to-metal seals prior to their export from the United States. In February, ICE and DOC agents arrested Chen in Guam before he took delivery of the 60 additional circular hermetic seals or the 8,500 glass-to-metal seals.

The investigation was conducted by ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami and DOC's Office of Export Enforcement.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Damian.