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Chinese national guilty of obstructing Homeland Security human trafficking investigation

The Chinese national deleted evidence for his girlfriend, who was caught up in the DHS investigation.

Updated: May 6, 2021 - 2:27pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A Chinese national has pleaded guilty in a federal court for tampering with evidence in relation to an international human trafficking investigation involving his girlfriend that was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations.

New York resident Xu Zhang, 31, pleaded guilty Tuesday, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Zhang was indicted in September 2019 for allegedly conspiring with his girlfriend and co-conspirator, Gao Xing, also a Chinese national, to destroy and conceal records related to a federal grand jury investigation. 

In September 2019, Xing was in federal custody and a subject of an international human trafficking investigation. While in custody, she asked her boyfriend, Zhang, to obtain access to her WeChat account and delete material, including contacts, and conversations.

WeChat is a popular Chinese messaging and social media application.

Zhang allegedly told her that doing so would make her case look worse, but he still went ahead and deleted the information and changed her user name.

Then on Nov. 1, 2019, Xing committed suicide while in federal custody at the Daviess County Detention Center in Kentucky.

For his role in tampering with evidence, Zhang faces up to 20 years in prison. He is to be sentenced on Sept. 15, 2021.