As an alternative, the Chinese language-born naturalized US citizen has remained behind bars amid issues about his secret-level safety clearance and what prosecutors described as “extremely suspicious” contacts with Chinese language consular officers in Los Angeles.
Prosecutors are additionally inspecting the obvious gulf between Xu’s estimated $120,000-to-$130,000 wage as a federal regulation enforcement officer and his “luxurious life-style,” through which he drove a Maserati, went on huge recreation searching journeys to Africa and had roughly $1.four million within the financial institution, in response to courtroom data. The cache of weapons recovered from Xu’s home was estimated to be value greater than $200,000, in response to prosecutors. Moreover, prosecutors allege that Xu and his spouse didn’t report a number of years of revenue from a rental property they’ve owned since 2015.
Xu’s protection legal professional, Mark Werksman, mentioned in courtroom papers that his consumer has lived in the US for 3 a long time, has no earlier legal document, and, as a result of his passport was seized as a part of the investigation, has no potential to journey outdoors the nation.
The lawyer was unsuccessful, nevertheless, in his try and persuade a federal choose at a listening to final month that Xu might be trusted to point out up for trial if he was launched. The listening to marked the third time Xu’s request for bond was denied.
Annamartine Salick, deputy chief of the Terrorism and Export Crime Part of the US Legal professional’s workplace in Los Angeles and the lead prosecutor on the case in opposition to Xu, declined remark.
In a courtroom submitting, she cited Xu’s “litany of lies and contempt for the rule of regulation” as among the many causes he must be denied bond.
Jack Weiss, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles who now runs an investigative agency, mentioned the allegations in opposition to Xu are particularly troubling given his position in regulation enforcement.
“That is somebody you’ll by no means need ready of authority within the US authorities,” Weiss mentioned. “I think about there may be going to be some type of inner evaluate as to how it’s that he was carrying a badge.”
Born in China, Xu got here to the US on a pupil visa within the late 1980s. He grew to become a naturalized citizen in 1999. In 2004, following stints within the personal sector as an engineer and entrepreneur, he was employed by Customs and Border Safety — a job requiring a secret-level safety clearance topic to periodic renewals.
Previous to his arrest in February, Xu labored as a watch commander for CBP on the ports of Los Angeles and Lengthy Seashore.
Jaime Ruiz, a spokesman for US Customs and Border Safety, mentioned Xu is now on “indefinite suspension.”
In response to prosecutors, Xu repeatedly made false statements and hid info when he crammed out questionnaires for his safety clearance beneath penalty of perjury.
Amongst different issues, prosecutors mentioned, Xu didn’t disclose his possession of two corporations that do enterprise with China and his “in depth enterprise contacts with Chinese language nationals.”
Brokers say they discovered proof of a checking account in China within the trash outdoors Xu’s residence and recovered two copies of Chinese language passports, bearing the identify Wei Xu however that includes photographs of different individuals, from Xu’s desk.
Salick argued at considered one of Xu’s detention hearings that she’d been instructed by CBP officers that if Xu falsely claimed to have misplaced his personal passport, he might fake to be one of many Chinese language residents bearing his identify, present that man’s biographical info to the Chinese language consulate, and would doubtless be issued journey paperwork to return to China.
Following Xu’s arrest, investigators discovered of his “long-standing contact with members of the Consulate Common of the Individuals’s Republic of China in Los Angeles,” in response to courtroom data.
Brokers seized emails, texts and telephone data exhibiting that Xu had been speaking with consular officers since at the very least 2013, in response to courtroom data. He was invited to occasions hosted by the consulate in 2017 and 2018, the data state, and brokers reviewed photos on his mobile phone “showing to point out” that Xu and his spouse attended the occasions.
Makes an attempt to succeed in Chinese language consular officers in Los Angeles weren’t instantly profitable.
Werksman downplayed his consumer’s purported wealth in a quick interview with CNN, saying, for instance, that the Maserati was leased. He mentioned Xu’s corporations exported forklift components and generated restricted revenue. He mentioned the Chinese language checking account authorities found was opened 20 years in the past and contained the comparatively meager sum of $1,700.
He additionally dismissed any intrigue surrounding Xu’s ties to China.
He mentioned in a courtroom submitting that the photocopies of passports seized from his workplace have been positioned there by co-workers enjoying a prank on Xu, whose duties embody overseeing entry and exit of Chinese language vessels in San Pedro, and who was at one level investigating two males who had the identical — quite common — first and final identify that he did.
He mentioned Xu’s contact with consular officers was associated to his work on the port, through which he generally contacted the consulate about crewmembers on Chinese language ships who have been in search of asylum in the US.
“There’s nothing nefarious about it,” he instructed CNN.
It was whereas investigating Xu relating to his safety clearance that brokers found his alleged involvement within the unlawful gun commerce.
In the summertime of 2017, FBI brokers say they retrieved a spreadsheet itemizing on-line accounts and login info from the trash outdoors Xu’s residence. Two of the accounts pertained to an internet site that acts as a market for personal gun gross sales.
An spy with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives started corresponding with Xu and ultimately bought 4 weapons.
In a single transaction in July, Xu confirmed up in a 2016 Maserati with an assault rifle within the trunk, in response to prosecutors.
The spy commented on the black sedan earlier than giving Xu $1,600 money for the rifle.
“I am such as you, playboy,” Xu allegedly responded.
Following one other deal, through which Xu allegedly bought the agent a rifle and 5 high-capacity magazines for $2,100, the CBP officer quipped, “We’re like drug sellers,” in response to a search warrant affidavit.
Werksman described his consumer as a “nerdy engineer” who collected firearms as a pastime and had no intention of turning into a gun vendor.
“He comes residence from work, goes out to the storage and tinkers with weapons,” the lawyer mentioned. “He wasn’t going to harm anybody.”
CNN senior nationwide correspondent Kyung Lah contributed to this report.