New York - A Queens woman was charged in a superseding indictment Wednesday for her alleged role in smuggling packages on flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on behalf of PRC military personnel. The initial arrest stems from a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) in New York, the United States Department of Justice and the FBI with assistance from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
A grand jury returned a superseding indictment Wednesday, adding charges against Ying Lin, a former station chief for an international air carrier (the Air Carrier), for smuggling, obstruction of justice and wire fraud. The superseding indictment also includes an earlier charge of structuring financial transactions.
“Lin allegedly used her position at an international air carrier to smuggle packages onto planes headed to China in return for favors such as discounted liquor and electronics. These illicit actions created a potential safety issue to the planes and passengers onboard,” said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez. “HSI will remain steadfast in its commitment to ensuring the integrity of our international airports so they are not used for criminal activities.”
“The defendant repeatedly acted in direct contravention of rules and regulations providing for the safety of flights in the United States in order to reap personal benefits such as free contracting work and tax-free liquor and electronics,” stated Robert L. Capers, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “The defendant also engaged in obstructive conduct even after she had been arrested in this case. She will now be held to account.”
Lin worked as a counter agent for the Air Carrier at JFK and later as station chief for the Air Carrier at Newark Liberty International Airport. Allegedly, Lin received certain packages from military officers of the PRC who were stationed at the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations (the PRC Mission) and from other employees of the PRC Consulate in New York. Lin then smuggled these packages onto Air Carrier flights departing JFK Airport for the PRC, in violation of applicable TSA rules and regulations and Air Carrier policies, which require that checked baggage be accepted only from ticketed passengers. In return, Lin received various benefits from PRC employees, including discounted liquor purchased from diplomatic duty-free shops and tax-exempt purchases of electronic devices, as well as free contracting work at her personal residence performed by PRC construction workers. Lin continued to engage in smuggling activities after her initial arrest in August 2015. In addition, Lin also helped a PRC national that she believed was a target of a federal inquiry escape to the PRC aboard an Air Carrier flight from JFK Airport.
This case is being prosecuted by Eastern District of New York’s National Security & Cybercrime Section, with assistance provided by the Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. The charges in the superseding indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.