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12 from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, California charged in $25 million drug and money laundering scheme



Photo courtesy of FBI

BOSTON – A man became the 12th suspect in what officials say is a sophisticated international money laundering and drug trafficking organization involving cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy) across several states.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Justice, 48-year-old Qing Hua Sun, a/k/a “Ben,” of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Sun was arrested in Brooklyn today and was released on conditions following an initial appearance in the Eastern District of New York. He will appear in federal court in Boston on May 30, 2023.

Today’s arrest marks the 12th defendant charged in connection with the conspiracy. In October 2022, a federal grand jury in Boston returned an indictment charging 11 individuals from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and California for their alleged involvement in a sophisticated international money laundering and drug trafficking organization led by Jin Hua Zhang.

According to the charging documents, Zhang’s network was first detected in the greater Boston area, but leaders and members of the organization were later identified throughout the United States and overseas. During the investigation, Zhang allegedly directed his co-defendant couriers, and others, to deliver to undercover agents hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and millions of dollars in wire transfers and bank deposits. In exchange, Zhang allegedly sought to obtain cryptocurrency, which he believed would enable his organization to transfer illicit funds without detection by banks’ security teams or law enforcement.

Over the course of several lengthy recorded meetings, Zhang, Sun, and others allegedly discussed efforts to launder funds from drug trafficking and other frauds by converting the funds to cryptocurrency for a fee. According to court documents, Zhang and Sun’s laundering operation included funds derived from fraud operations based in Cambodia, which Sun was responsible for cultivating. In total, Zhang, Sun, and other members of the money laundering conspiracy allegedly sought to launder at least $25 million.

It is alleged that, to date, funds have been traced from the Zhang Organization to Hong Kong and elsewhere in China, India, Cambodia and Brazil, among other locations. Additionally, a portion of the funds Zhang, Sun and their associates sought to launder, was seized.

The charge of money laundering conspiracy provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000, or twice the amount involved, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Pohl, Brian A. Fogerty and Meghan Cleary of Rollins’ Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.

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