Ex-US Customs officer, likely Chinese agent, charged in California gun running scheme

Former CBP commander at Long Beach Seaport engaged in illicit operation for over 25 years

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(Photo from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office)

(Photo from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The U.S. government has filed federal charges against a former high-ranking agent of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with connections to China for operating an illegal gun running business in California.

The defendant, Wei Xu, is 56 years old and a former CBP watch commander, who has been charged with selling illegal firearms and using his security clearance at the Long Beach Seaport to assist in his illicit business operation. He has confessed to selling over 100 firearms illegally, beginning in the 1990s until his arrest in early February.

Alarmingly, Xu has also been indicted for “failing to disclose his foreign financial interests and contacts in China,” according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office of Central California. Xu reportedly used his authority as a high-ranking law enforcement officer to purchase guns legally through licensed vendors and to then sell them on the black market.

The notice from the U.S. Justice Department, released to the public on July 17, does not discuss Wu’s clientele in the U.S. However, it does reveal that in July and August 2018, he unknowingly sold three illegal firearms from the trunk of his car to undercover federal agents.

Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office, quoted in the press release, noted the threat to communities and national security posed by Xu’s activates.

“Mr. Xu's plea to a variety of offenses including trafficking in illegal firearms, tax fraud and lying to his government employer about Chinese contacts in order to maintain a security clearance, is a necessary step in holding him accountable for years of criminal activity. Our communities and our nation are more secure now that Mr. Xu has been stripped of his access to guns and confidential information.”

Although Xu has already entered a plea agreement admitting to selling “at least 99” illegal firearms over the past 25 years, it is worth noting that when federal officers raided his house, Xu had a stockpile of over “250 firearms, including 41 fully-automatic firearms or machineguns,” none of which were legally registered.

Further, the release also notes that Xu “maintained close and continuing contacts” with business associates in China and that he created a sham company in Florida to account for alleged personal business losses to offset his regular income, and thereby evade federal taxes due to the IRS.

Xu’s business savvy and undisclosed information regarding his contacts in China as well as unknown clientele in the U.S. indicates that Wei Xu’s business operation was probably quite extensive, given the extraordinarily long time in which he was working at the Long Beach Seaport.

Coincidentally, red flags were raised in the Trump administration in 2017 at the Long Beach Seaport when its previous owner, Orient Overseas, was purchased by Chinese shipping giant COSCO, prompting a review of the port lease agreement by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

In early May of 2019, on orders from the Trump administration, COSCO was forced to relinquish ownership of the Port of Long Beach in California and the port was officially transferred to a U.S. firm.

Port of Long Beach (Wikimedia Commons)