SEVENTEEN suspects involved in cross-border weapons smuggling went on trial yesterday at the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court.
The defendants were charged with part or all of three crimes: illegal smuggling, possession and trade of weapons and ammunition.
The suspects were arrested in June after a Sino-US joint law enforcement operation cracked the arms smuggling network.
Most of the defendants are gun enthusiasts and shooting fans, authorities said. They bought the firearms from the lead suspect, Wang Ting, who served as a middleman on the Chinese side, officials said.
According to the indictment, Wang received 48 firearms and 4,585 bullets hidden in packages shipped from the United States to China via international delivery services between July 2010 and August 2011. The weapons included numerous semiautomatic handguns, rifles and shotguns.
Wang allegedly sold 23 guns and 2,156 bullets to other suspects and collected about 1.28 million yuan (US$205,568) for Lin Zhifu, a 25-year-old Chinese who left China for the US in November 2009 and set up the online network of arms dealers.
The masterminds of the smuggling scheme were Joseph Debose, a former US National Guard staff sergeant, and his Chinese conspirators, Lin and Lin's girlfriend Li Lilan. The trio was tried in the United States.
The trial at the Shanghai court will continue today.