BEIJING — China and the U.S. said June 12 they have busted an international arms-trafficking ring and arrested 26 suspects, in a rare instance of law enforcement cooperation.
The arrests came after a 10-month investigation triggered by the seizure of a parcel containing pistols and rifle parts at the Shanghai international airport in August last year, China’s public security ministry said.
A Chinese man was detained when he tried to collect the parcel, which had come from New York and was destined for the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, the ministry said.
Subsequent investigations revealed a 25-year-old Chinese man living in the U.S. since 2009 had been using courier services to ship firearms to Chinese buyers contacted online.
Authorities have seized 93 guns, more than 50,000 bullets and a large number of gun parts in China. Among those arrested was a staff sergeant with the U.S. National Guard who had 12 guns in his possession when he was picked up in May.
He was allegedly planning to ship the guns to China, where possession of firearms is prohibited and punishable by jail.
U.S. officials travelled to Shanghai where they were allowed “unprecedented access to investigative information,” the U.S. embassy in Beijing said in a statement.
It said the success of the joint operation was “a sign of optimism” that could “lead to even greater law enforcement cooperation in the future” — a sentiment echoed by Beijing.
The latest arrests came after China and U.S. authorities shut down a network of child pornography sites in August, with Chinese police arresting several people suspected of money-laundering and maintaining the sites in China.