DES MOINES, Iowa >> Federal authorities have arrested two Chinese nationals — one of them a former Iowa State student — accused of smuggling and arms-regulation violations.
The Des Moines Register obtained federal documents Friday that show the former student, Wentong Cai, 29, and an associate, Bo Cai, 28, were arrested in February and accused of multiple federal crimes.
The documents say Wentong Cai was an ISU student last fall when he contacted an undercover federal agent posing as an international distributor of trade-protected technology. Court documents say Wentong Cai told the undercover agent he wanted to smuggle nearly two dozen ARS-14 sensors into China.
The sensors help gauge precise motion control in aerial and ground-based vehicles. They have civilian uses, but are mainly used by the military. Those wanting to export the devices must obtain a federal license to do so, the documents say.
Court documents don’t indicate what the men allegedly planned to do with the sensors.
The undercover agent received $27,000 in December from Bo Cai’s company, Nanjing Shuntai Technology, the documents say. That company sells instruments that measure moisture in the atmosphere and produce ultraviolet images, among other things.
Wentong Cai noted to the undercover agent that he worked as a graduate research assistant in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State and said he planned to conduct most of his research in the United States.
Both men remain in custody, but authorities did not say where they are being held or when they will appear in court. Requests for information about Wentong Cai and Bo Cai’s locations and the names of their attorneys were not provided to the newspaper by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday.
If convicted, the men face 20-year prison sentences and $1 million fines, according to court documents.
Iowa State released a statement late Friday saying it had cooperated with federal investigators in December and January, but had no information about specific allegations or the status of the investigation. School records show that Wentong Cai did not complete his spring classes and is not enrolled in any ISU summer courses.