Boston’s Chinatown restaurant served as a front for the global money laundering program, DOJ says

A family-run restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown served as the headquarters for international money laundering and broadcast programs that raised tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from drug trafficking and the resale of Apple products.

Eight people were indicted for their alleged roles in the schemes that were partly managed Chinese gourmetaccording to Department of Justice (DOJ). Former spouses Shi Rong Zhang, 48, and Qiu Mei Zeng, 47, are co-owners of the restaurant.

Both Zhang and Zeng were charged with conspiracy to money laundering and unlicensed transmission of money. Zhang’s Hanover-based electronics store, Wonderful Electronics, was also used as a cover for illicit transactions, as per court documents.

Vincent Feng, 32 years old; From Zeng, 30; Wei Qing Zeng, 58; Xian Rong Zeng, 45, and Qiu Fang Zeng, 59, face the same charges. Additionally, Chengzou Liu, 36, was indicted for conspiring money laundering and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

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A months-long investigation revealed Liu as a marijuana trafficker who regularly delivered the drug proceeds to China Gourmet and also to Qiu Mei Zeng, who then laundered those proceeds via electronic transfers. In March, investigators reportedly seized more than $ 250,000 of alleged marijuana proceeds from Wei Qing Zeng’s vehicle, which was en route to China Gourmet from New York.

The defendants allegedly acquired drug proceeds in Boston and New York for a fee. They then transferred the equivalent of the Chinese renminbi proceeds to the traffickers’ bank accounts and used a discounted exchange rate to “sell” the proceeds to US customers.

The former spouses, Da Zeng, Feng and others also allegedly used stolen and / or fraudulent gift cards to purchase thousands of Apple products, which were then sold and shipped around the world. This scheme would also have earned them millions of dollars.

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“These defendants are alleged to have transferred tens of millions of dollars in illegal proceeds under sophisticated money laundering and broadcasting schemes operating from supposedly legal businesses serving Massachusetts residents,” the US attorney said in a statement. United States Rachael S. Rollins. “Without money there is no drug trafficking. The laundering of drug profits is central to drug trafficking. By eliminating the means by which drug suppliers clean up their illicit proceeds, we are cutting the lifeblood of their operations: money ”.

Rollins added: “We must do everything possible to make the Commonwealth safer and fight the drug crisis. This indictment should serve as a serious warning to both drug traffickers and those involved in illicit money laundering: your conduct is criminal and you will be prosecuted under federal law. “

Authorities dubbed the investigation “Operation Good Fortune”. Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Office, said that money laundering and drug trafficking “go hand in hand.”

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“This crew is accused of using their family-run restaurant in Chinatown as a front for an elaborate international money laundering and money-transmitting scheme in which they conducted off-balance sheet transactions worth tens of millions of dollars to circumvent laws. of our country, and hide the source of their income. Operation Good Fortune is just one example of how the FBI and our law enforcement partners work together to dismantle large-scale criminal enterprises, ”Bonavolonta said.

The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering carries up to three years of controlled release, a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000 or double the value of the property involved, whichever is greater. The unlicensed transmission of money charge includes up to three years of controlled release, a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000.

The detention charge with intent to distribute marijuana includes at least three years and up to a life of controlled release, a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine. Charges of conspiracy to money laundering and detention with intent to distribute marijuana carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison, while charges of illegally transmitting money carry a sentence of up to five years.

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According to the DOJ, these convictions “are imposed by a federal district court judge based on US sentencing guidelines and statutes governing the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.”

Featured image via WMUR-TV

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