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June 7, 2013

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17 jailed over smuggling US arms

SEVENTEEN people received terms from 19 months in prison to death with a reprieve yesterday in a weapons smuggling case involving dozens of firearms and thousands of bullets delivered via international delivery services, the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court ruled.

Most of the convicts are gun enthusiasts and shooting fans, the court said. Their average age is 33 years old and the youngest is 24. They were arrested in June 2012 after a Sino-US joint law enforcement operation busted the weapons smuggling network.

The lead convict, Wang Ting, who served as a middleman on the Chinese side, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, the most serious sentence levied.

The court said Wang received firearms and bullets from Lin Zhifu, a 25-year-old Chinese who left China for the United States in November 2009 and set up the online network of arms dealers.

Between July 2010 and August 2011, Wang received 48 firearms and 4,585 bullets hidden in electronic keyboards and loudspeakers shipped from the US to Taizhou City of neighboring Zhejiang Province via UPS delivery service.

The weapons included numerous semiautomatic handguns, rifles and shotguns.

The court said Wang sold 23 guns and 2,156 bullets to other convicts and collected about 1.28 million yuan (US$208,640) for Lin.

The criminals were convicted on part or all of charges of illegal smuggling, and possession and trade of weapons and ammunition. According to Chinese law, the heaviest penalty for those who illegally trade weapons and ammunition is death.

The smuggling scheme was led by Joseph Debose, a former US National Guard staff sergeant, and his Chinese conspirators, Lin and Lin's girlfriend Li Lilan. The three were tried in the US.


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