- Federal prosecutors said a former Air China flight attendant has pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling and sales tax evasion.
- Ying Lin assisted Chinese officials with buying luxury items tax-free as well as getting packages through JFK airport unscreened.
- The 48-year-old faces up to 10 years in prison, the Department of Justice said.
Chinese officials paid a former Air China flight attendant to smuggle packages through New York’s JFK airport, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.
Ying Lin, who worked for the airline from 2002 to 2016, pleaded guilty to acting as an agent of the Chinese government, according to federal prosecutors, ending a years-long investigation that began in 2015.
According to the Department of Justice, Lin, "wrongly facilitated the transport of packages from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK Airport) to the PRC aboard Air Carrier flights at the behest of the PRC military officers and in violation of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations."
Court DocumentsThe 48-year-old said also conspired with others to avoid paying sales tax on thousands of dollars worth of goods, including Apple iPhones, Rolex watches, liquor, and cigarettes, according to court documents.
She faces up to a decade in prison, the government said, and has agreed to forfeit $170,000 as part of her guilty plea.
Air China and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign of Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.
"The defendant’s actions as an agent of the Chinese government helped Chinese military officers to evade U.S. law enforcement scrutiny of packages that they sent from New York to Beijing," United States Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a press release.
"This case demonstrates how seriously we address counterintelligence threats posed by individuals in the United States who work for foreign governments, such as China." Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the TSA for their assistance on the case."
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