A Chinese female prosecutor and a former New York City Police Department detective are among nine people accused of stalking and harassing US residents in an attempt to pressure them to return to China.
The nine people were named in a replacement federal suit filed Thursday in Brooklyn accusing them of working as illegal spies to stalk Chinese citizens living in the US.
The indictment alleges that the nine defendants acted on the direction of officials in the People’s Republic of China in a brutal campaign called Operation Fox Hunt.
Two suspects are also charged with obstructing a federal investigation into the operation.
The brutal plan involved targeting a New Jersey man, allegedly wanted by the Chinese government for taking bribes, and his family.
The man from New Jersey is a former employee of the Chinese government.
The nine people were named in a replacement federal suit filed Thursday in Brooklyn accusing them of working as illegal spies to stalk Chinese citizens living in the US. Pictured is a defendant Zheng Congying who was taken into custody last year
The defendants allegedly campaigned to “threat, harass, monitor and intimidate” the man and his family in an attempt to force him to return to China to face charges.
One of the female defendants, Tu Lan, worked as a prosecutor in the Hanyang People’s Procuratorate.
Lan is accused of traveling to the US and leading the harassment campaign, the indictment said.
She also allegedly ordered a co-conspirator to destroy evidence to hinder the federal investigation into the operation.
Lan, as well as another defendant Zhai Yongqiang, were both added to the charges on Thursday.
In October last year, charges against six others came to light for the first time. The name of one suspect remains under the seal.
One of the previous defendants is Michael McMahon, who lives in New Jersey and is a retired NYPD detective.
The 53-year-old, who worked as a private investigator after retiring, is accused of working with other suspects to gather information about the New Jersey man and his wife and locate them.
McMahon has since claimed that he was unaware he worked for the Chinese government.
The accused are: Tu Lan, Zhai Yongqiang, Hu Ji, Li Minjun and Zhu Feng. They remain free.
Michael McMahon, Zheng Congying and Zhu Yong were all arrested last year and will face trial in Brooklyn federal court at a later date.
The indictment alleges that Tu Lan and Hu Ji brought the New Jersey man’s father into the US from China against his will in April 2017 and forced him to tell his son that his family would be harmed at home if he didn’t. returned.
Authorities say the defendants were overseeing a New Jersey man allegedly wanted back in China for taking bribes. One of the defendants, Zhu Feng, was found to be carrying the aforementioned surveillance equipment
In one situation, two defendants drove to the New Jersey man’s home and banged on the front door in September 2018. After trying to break into the door, the defendants left a note – written in Chinese – that read: ‘If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children. will be okay. That’s the end of this case!’
Lan then returned to China and continued to run the operation from there, the indictment said.
Zhu Feng, Hu Ji and Zhu Yong are accused of working with McMahon to gather information about the New Jersey family.
Lan allegedly ordered one of the conspirators to remove “all chat content” between them.
According to the indictment, the suspects continued to harass and stalk the victims between 2017 and 2019, at the direction of the Chinese government.
In one situation, two defendants drove to the New Jersey man’s home and banged on the front door in September 2018.
After trying to break into the door, the defendants left a note – written in Chinese – that read, “If you’re willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, you’ll be fine.” your wife and children. That’s the end of this case!’
Between February 2019 and April 2019, other conspirators sent unsolicited packages to the residence, containing threatening letters and video messages.
“As alleged, the defendants, acting as agents of the PRC, conducted an illegal and clandestine campaign to harass and threaten targeted US residents in order to force them to return to the PRC. Unregistered, roving agents of a foreign power may not engage in covert surveillance of US residents on US soil, and their illegal conduct will be fought with the full force of US law,” acting US Attorney Kasulis said.
“To the extent that the PRC wishes to repatriate its citizens to the PRC, its agents must register with the United States Attorney General, consult with US officials, and adhere to US laws and protocols.”
The US had previously warned about Operation Fox Hunt, which it described as a “rogue” attempt to suppress dissidents and critics of the People’s Republic of China.
Officials said the PRC has used the operation to target hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US, rather than through legitimate law enforcement channels.