NASHVILLE – A Chinese National pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to conspiring to commit evidence tampering in relation to an international human trafficking investigation, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Xu Zhang, 31, a New York resident, was indicted in September 2019, after conspiring with his girlfriend and co-conspirator, Gao Xing, also a Chinese National, to destroy and conceal records pertinent to a federal grand jury investigation.
According to court documents, on September 6, 2019, Zhang visited Gao Xing in jail while she was in federal custody and the subject of an international human trafficking investigation. During the visit, Xing instructed Zhang to delete material information, including contacts and conversations from her WeChat account. WeChat is a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media, and mobile payment application that can be accessed by mobile devices, personal computers, and the internet. Xing provided Zhang with a method to obtain her online WeChat account login information from her mother in China, and other details pertaining to her account. Xing indicated that the items she needed Zhang to delete would make her case or situation worse and she further instructed Zhang to change her WeChat name.
The following day, during a telephone call from the jail, Zhang confirmed to Xing that he had deleted the information requested and had changed Xing’s WeChat name in an attempt to delete and destroy material information related to her WeChat account.
On November 1, 2019, Gao Xing committed suicide in her cell at the Daviess County, Kentucky Detention Center.
Zhang faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on September 15, 2021.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations; IRS-Criminal Investigation; and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Beth Myers is prosecuting the case.
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