Two Windham residents charged in money laundering ring

Two Windham residents are facing a series of charges over their alleged involvement in a multi-million dollar money laundering ring. The Justice Department says Windham residents Shi Rong Zhang, 48, and Qiu Fang Zheng, 59, were part of a large-scale operation to take tens of millions of dollars worth of drug trafficking proceeds from family-run China Gourmet restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown washed quarters. Investigators say the duo and several others would accept drug proceeds for a fee. They would then transfer the equivalent in Chinese currency to drug dealers’ bank accounts and then sell the drug proceeds at a reduced rate to people in the United States. Attorney Patricia LaFrance, who is not directly involved with the case, said it was extensive and obvious that a lot of work had gone into the case. US Attorneys confirmed the charges came after months of wiretapping and surveillance of the Boston restaurant and other businesses. “It just goes to show how complicated this investigation is,” LaFrance said. One of the biggest busts in the case occurred in March, when agents seized more than $250,000 worth of alleged marijuana proceeds being shipped from New York to China Gourmet, according to officials. FBI agents said the cash was found hidden under stacks of frozen meat products. LaFrance said the nature of the crime and the amount of money involved could trigger additional charges. “If you think about these situations where tens of millions of dollars are said to be laundered through these companies, it means there are tax implications,” LaFrance said. The suspects are also accused of using stolen gift cards to ship thousands of Apple products internationally in exchange for tens of millions of dollars in money transfers. Zhang and Zheng are two of eight people indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston. The other six people are all Massachusetts residents. The charges carry a prison sentence of between five and 20 years if convicted. A trial date has not yet been set.

Two Windham residents are facing a series of charges over their alleged involvement in a multi-million dollar money laundering ring.

The Justice Department says Windham residents Shi Rong Zhang, 48, and Qiu Fang Zheng, 59, were part of a large-scale operation to launder drug proceeds at the family-owned China Gourmet restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Investigators say the duo and several others would accept drug proceeds for a fee. They would then transfer the equivalent in Chinese currency to drug dealers’ bank accounts and then sell the drug proceeds at a reduced rate to people in the United States.

Attorney Patricia LaFrance, who is not directly involved with the case, said it was extensive and obvious that a lot of work had gone into the case.

US Attorneys confirmed the charges came after months of wiretapping and surveillance of the Boston restaurant and other businesses.

“It just goes to show how involved these investigations are, how complicated,” LaFrance said.

One of the biggest busts in the case occurred in March, when agents seized more than $250,000 worth of alleged proceeds of marijuana being shipped from New York to China Gourmet, according to officials. FBI agents said the cash was found hidden under stacks of frozen meat products.

LaFrance said the nature of the crime and the amount of money involved could trigger additional charges.

“If you think about these situations where tens of millions of dollars are said to be laundered through these companies, it means there are tax implications,” LaFrance said.

The suspects are also accused of using stolen gift cards to ship thousands of Apple products internationally in exchange for tens of millions of dollars in money transfers.

Zhang and Zheng are two of eight people indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston. The other six people are all Massachusetts residents.

The charges carry prison terms of between five and 20 years if convicted.

A trial date has not yet been set.

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