Two former Drug Enforcement Administration task force officers were charged in a superseding indictment unsealed Tuesday with drug conspiracy, weapons offenses, robbery, obstruction of justice and falsification of records in federal investigations.
A federal grand jury indicted Karl Emmett Newman, 49, of Kentwood, Louisiana, and Johnny Jacob Domingue, 27, of Maurepas, Louisiana on Oct. 7.
Newman is charged with one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and oxycodone, one count of interference with commerce by robbery, one count of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, one count of possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, two counts of unlawful conversion of property by a government officer or employee, two counts of falsifying records in a federal investigation and one count of obstruction of justice.
Domingue is charged with one count of falsifying records in a federal investigation. Newman was originally charged on May 13, 2016, in a now-unsealed indictment, and was arrested on that date.
Domingue was arrested on a now-unsealed criminal complaint on May 12, 2016.
In addition to serving as DEA task force officers, Newman and Domingue previously served as deputies with the Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff’s Office.
The defendants are presumed innocent unless and proven guilty,
A federal judge sentenced Kan Chen, 26, of Ningbo, China, in Zhejiang Province, to 30 months in prison for conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations; attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations; and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, officials announced Wednesday.
On June 16, 2015, Chen was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations agents on the Northern Mariana Island of Saipan following an eight-month long investigation into his illegal conduct, according to officials.
He pleaded guilty to the offenses listed above on March 2, 2016.
“The United States will simply never know the true harm of Chen’s conduct because the end users of the rifle scopes and other technology are unknown,” said U.S. Attorney Charles Oberly.
Adding, “No matter their nationality, those individuals who seek to profit by illegally exporting sensitive U.S. military technology will be prosecuted. It is important that we take all necessary steps to prevent our military technology and equipment from being exported and possibly used against our service members and our allies overseas.”
“These sophisticated technologies are highly sought after by our adversaries,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Gregory Nevano of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation. “They were developed to give the United States and its allies a distinct military advantage, which is why HSI will continue to aggressively target the individuals who might illegally procure and sell these items.”
According to court documents, from July 2013 through his arrest in June 2015, Chen caused or attempted to cause the illegal export of over 180 export-controlled items, valued at over $275,000, from the United States to China.
Over 40 of those items – purchased for more than $190,000 – were sophisticated night vision and thermal imaging scopes, which are designated by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations as U.S. Munitions List defense articles and can be mounted on automatic and semi-automatic rifles and used for military purposes at night.
Given the sensitivity surrounding these military-grade items, Chen devised a scheme to smuggle these items through Delaware and outside the United States.
He purchased the devices via the internet and telephone and had them mailed to several reshipping services in New Castle, Delaware, which provide an American shipping address for customers located in China, accept packages for their customers and then re-ship them to China.
In order to further conceal his illegal activity, Chen arranged for the re-shippers to send the devices to several intermediary individuals, who in turn forwarded the devices to Chen in China. Chen then sent the devices to his customers.
During the course of this conduct, Chen made numerous false statements in order to knowingly and willfully evade the export control laws of the United States, including by undervaluing the shipments, unlawfully avoiding the filing of export information with the U.S. government, indicating that he was a natural-born U.S. citizen and providing the address of the reshipping service as his own.
During the sentencing hearing, the government noted the lethality of these items when combined with weapons designed for use on a battlefield, according to authorities.
For example, officials said the ATN ThOR 640-5x, 640×480-Inch Thermal Weapon Scope, 100 mm, which Chen purchased for $8,428.39, is described by the manufacturer as “an ideal product for force protection, border patrol officers, police SWAT and special operations forces providing them the tools they need to be successful in all field operations both day and night. Uncooled thermal imaging cuts through dust, smoke, fog, haze, and other battlefield obscurants.”
Government noted that Chen’s conduct was particularly harmful because he sold this military technology indiscriminately, which could have been obtained by terrorists and criminals.