U.S. Targets Weapons Technology Theft

The Justice Department, along with the FBI, ICE and the Commerce Department, have pursued a wide array of cases. In May, Chinese-born Chi Mak was convicted by a California jury for stealing documents and computer disks from defense contractor Power Paragon.

Mak had been an engineer at the firm and collected data on U.S. warship propulsion systems and research related to nuclear submarines.

In August, Xiaodong Sheldon Meng pleaded guilty of giving valuable trade secrets of California based Quantum3D to members of the Malaysian and Thai air forces and China. According to the indictment, Meng stole numerous Quantum3D products which were solely used for military applications designed for training military fighter pilots in night vision scenarios.

In April, Mohammad Alavi, a former engineer at an Arizona nuclear plant, was charged with taking computer access codes and training software to Iran. Alavi was charged with illegally exporting the software for not obtaining the proper U.S. licenses.

ICE and the Justice Department have also pursued numerous cases involving the illegal export of U.S. fighter jet components to Iran. Iran has operated a fleet of F-4 and F-14 fighters since the 1970s, now the country is desperately seeking parts for its aging air force.

On Oct. 5, Abraham Trujillo and David Wayne were charged with attempting to export components for the jets.

"That case is really, I think, an example of how globalization has yet again shown it knows no bounds," Myers told reporters at the Wednesday news conference. "The type of illicit behavior that we are seeing from individuals who engage in this criminal activity has grown from the traditional cloak-and-dagger of countries seeking critical technology to a new world of opportunity for the entrepreneur."

The growing concern has spurred action in Congress. Late Thursday, two members of the House Judiciary Committee proposed legislation to increase penalties for violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Administration Act.

"It has been estimated that there are between 2,000 and 3,000 Chinese front companies operating in the United States to gather secret or proprietary information," the Committee's ranking member, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said in a statement.

Smith and his colleague Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., announced the proposed legislation, "Supporting Prosecutions of International Espionage Schemes [SPIES] Act of 2007," Thursday.

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