|Chinese lawmaker Leland Yee faces California illegal arms trafficking charges
A Chinese senator of California who authored gun control legislation asked for campaign donations in exchange for introducing an undercover FBI agent to an arms trafficker, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.
The allegations against senator Leland Yee, who had migrated from China at age 3, were outlined in an FBI criminal complaint that names 25 other defendants, including Raymond Chow, a onetime gang leader with ties to San Francisco's Chinatown known as “Shrimp Boy,'' and Keith Jackson, Yee's campaign aide. The affidavit accuses Yee of conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms, AP reports.
Yee is also accused of accepting tens of thousands of US dollars in campaign contributions and cash payments to provide introductions, help a client get a contract and influence legislation. He or members of his campaign staff accepted at least US$42,800 in cash or campaign contributions from undercover FBI agents in exchange for carrying out the agents' specific requests, the court documents allege.
Yee discussed helping the agent get weapons worth US$500,000 to US$2.5 million, including shoulder-fired missiles, and explaining the entire process of acquiring them from a Muslim separatist group in Philippines to bringing them to the US, according to the court document by FBI agent Emmanuel V. Pascua.
Yee said he was unhappy with his life and told the agent he wanted to hide out in Philippines, according to the affidavit.
“There's a part of me that wants to be like you,'' he told the undercover agent, according to the affidavit. “You know how I'm going to be like you? Just be a free agent there.''
The introduction with the trafficker took place at a San Francisco restaurant earlier this month, according to the documents. Yee said he wouldn't go to Philippines until November.
“Once things start to move, it's going to attract attention. We just got to be extra-extra careful,'' he said, according to court documents.
Chow and Yee were arrested Wednesday during a series of raids in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Jackson, a former San Francisco school board president and well-known political consultant who raised money for Yee's unsuccessful mayoral run in 2011 and his current bid for secretary of state, was also in custody.
Jackson, 49, did not enter a plea Wednesday as the FBI accused him of being involved in a murder-for-hire scheme and trafficking guns and drugs. He was denied bail and is due back in court Monday.