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Chinese grad student pleads guilty in military sensors smuggling case

A Chinese doctoral student pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque to three federal felonies stemming from his attempt to illegally export U.S.-made military sensors to China.

Bo Cai, 28, of Nanjing, China, entered the guilty plea to one count of unlawful export of defense articles, one count of smuggling and one count of conspiracy today before Magistrate Judge Lorenzo Garcia. He could face up to 35 years in prison. A sentencing date has been set.

The case involves attempts by Bo Cai and a second man to purchase sensors manufactured in New Mexico “for weapons or weapon systems; guidance, control and stabilization systems,” according to federal court records.

The indictment, filed by Homeland Security investigators in December, allege that Bo Cai and a second man, Wentong Cai, 29, of Ames, Iowa, tried to arrange the purchase and export of the sensors beginning in March 2012.

Wentong Cai remains scheduled for trial.

Bo Cai was arrested in California in December as he was about to board a flight to return to China. Wentong Cai was arrested Jan. 22 in Iowa, where he was a teaching assistant in veterinary microbiology and a Ph.D. candidate at Iowa State University.

Both men have remained in custody at the Torrance County Detention Center, where U.S. Marshals Service houses prisoners awaiting trial.

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