TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's law enforcement authorities have received a glowing reference from the FBI for its role in catching a man suspected of kidnapping and stealing NT$88 million (US$3 million) in crypto assets.
An FBI special agent was quoted as saying the teamwork with Taiwan's National Immigration Bureau (NIA) and Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) "truly represents the best in international law enforcement cooperation and we appreciate the collaboration of the Taiwan authorities."
Zhang Tianzhe, 31, allegedly broke into a home in San Francisco on March 16. Dressed in ski goggles, a hood, and gloves, Zhang tied up a woman with duct tape, threatened to torture her with a knife, and reportedly communicated without speaking using an iPad hung around his neck.
According to an FBI statement, Zhang got away with approximately NT$88 million in cryptocurrency assets and fled to Taiwan. The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) contacted the FBI and they got in touch with Taiwan's NIA and CBI to work together on the case.
An arrest warrant for first-degree residential burglary, kidnapping for ransom, and criminal threats was issued March 23. Meanwhile, Zhang's U.S. passport was canceled, which meant he had no legal status in Taiwan and could be apprehended.
He was found in Kaohsiung and arrested with NT$239,000 in cash, a tablet, laptop, two bank debit cards, cryptocurrency ledgers, telephone cards, plus further evidence of his crimes. He was deported from the country on Friday (June 3), escorted by a San Francisco police officer, Sergeant John Hallisy.
Zhang Tianzhe is deported; and alleged evidence of his crimes is displayed, including cryptocurrency ledgers. (Criminal Investigation Bureau, National Police Agency photos)
In a video provided to Taiwan News, Nicholas J. Garcia, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation Legal Liaison Section American Institute in Taiwan, praised Taiwan's criminal justice system. He made the following statement:
"On March 16, 2022, the San Francisco Police Department was notified of a home invasion and a subsequent unlawful theft of approximately US$3 million in online assets from a San Francisco-based victim. Through their investigation, the SFPD determined that the alleged suspect, Zhang Tianzhe, had fled to Taiwan.
"The SFPD contacted the FBI and requested we assist in coordinating the efforts of Taiwan law enforcement partners and locating Zhang and taking him into custody. The National Immigration Agency and the Criminal Investigation Bureau quickly located and apprehended Zhang and arranged his deportation to the United States to face local charges in San Francisco.
"On behalf of the FBI and our local San Francisco police department partners, I would like to recognize NIA and CIB for the prompt and safe return of Zhang to the U.S. This collaboration truly represents the best in international law enforcement cooperation and we appreciate the collaboration of the Taiwan authorities."