The owners of a Chinatown restaurant and a Hanover electronics business are among eight people indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston in connection with a complex money-laundering and money-transmitting conspiracy that processed tens of millions of dollars in drug revenues and a scheme that used stolen or fraudulent gift cards to buy Apple products and ship them overseas, officials said Friday.
Shi Rong Zhang, and his ex-wife, Qiu Mei Zeng, are co-owners of the China Gourmet restaurant in Chinatown, while Zhang also owns Wonderful Electronics, a restaurant supply and electronics business in Hanover, according to a statement from the US attorney’s office.
Zhang, 48, of Windham, N.H., and Zeng, 47, of Quincy, are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and unlicensed money transmitting, the statement said. Also charged are Vincent Feng, 32, of Quincy; Da Zeng, 30, of Massachusetts; Wei Qing Zeng, 58, of Quincy; Xian Rong Zeng, 45, of Hanover; and Qiu Fang Zeng, 59, of Windham, N.H., the statement said.
Another defendant, Chengzou Liu, 36, of Braintree, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, prosecutors said.
US Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said the eight had run elaborate conspiracies within businesses that outwardly appeared to be operating legally.
“This indictment should serve as a serious warning to both drug traffickers and business operators who engage in illicit money laundering: your conduct is criminal, and you will be prosecuted under federal law,” Rollins said.
Prosecutors allege Zhang and Zeng used their businesses as fronts for an extensive money-laundering and money-transmitting scheme that involved several co-conspirators, including their relatives Wei Qing Zeng, Xian Rong Zeng, and Qiu Fang Zeng, the statement said.
The group accepted drug revenue in Boston and New York for a fee, then transferred the equivalent value in Chinese currency to traffickers’ bank accounts and sold the drug money to people in the United States at a reduced exchange rate, according to prosecutors.
By keeping their transactions off the books, the group conspired to hide the source of the money and avoid US and Chinese reporting requirements, the statement said.
Members of the group also allegedly used stolen or fraudulent gift cards to buy thousands of Apple products and ship the items to locations such as Dubai, accepting tens of millions of dollars in payments through wire transfers, according to the statement.
Liu allegedly trafficked marijuana and laundered the proceeds through China Gourmet, delivering “large amounts of bulk drug proceeds, typically in amounts greater than $30,000″ to the restaurant and to Qiu Mei Zeng to launder the cash, according to prosecutors.
In March, investigators allegedly seized more than $250,000 of suspected marijuana revenue that was hidden under frozen meat in Wei Qing Zeng’s vehicle as it was en route from New York to the restaurant in Boston, the statement said.