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HomeBusinessThe virus led him to Vancouver, now China’s “Little Long” faces Chicago charges for laundering Mexican drug money

The virus led him to Vancouver, now China’s “Little Long” faces Chicago charges for laundering Mexican drug money


Bob Mackin

The Chinese citizen arrested at Vancouver International Airport last February on charges he laundered money for Mexican drug cartels will go before a federal judge in February 2021 in Chicago.

Long Huanxin, aka “Little Long” or “Mateo K,” is charged in the United States with receiving bulk cash from the proceeds of narcotics, laundering the funds and delivering the money to drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico.

Federal Court in Chicago (U.S. District Court) was first to report last March how Long was arrested Feb. 5 after arriving on a flight from Guangzhou. Canada Border Services Agency officers were acting on a warrant issued in March 2019 from the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division. Long agreed on July 15 in B.C. Supreme Court to surrender to the U.S. court.

The unsealed grand jury indictment alleges that Long and Haiping Pan, aka “Francisco” and “Myonlystar,” were involved from May 2017 to July 2018 in a scheme with Mexican national Antonio Cuellar Esparza

“Pan, Long and others including Cuellar Esparza, coordinated money ‘pickups’ in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere, at which bulk quantities of cash narcotics proceeds were delivered by U.S.-based drug traffickers to operatives who worked for Pan and Long,” the indictment said. “It was further part of the conspiracy that Long and others delivered, and caused to be delivered, the cash narcotics proceeds to individuals and businesses in the United States that assisted in laundering the funds, including by receiving the cash narcotics proceeds, which were in U.S. dollars, and identifying the monetary equivalent of the cash narcotics proceeds in Chinese Yuan located in commercial bank accounts in China.”

The indictment specifically alleges that Pan and Long received large sums of cash in Chicago — $253,780 on July 2, 2018 and $254,980 on July 5, 2018 — that were the proceeds of illicit drug trafficking. Long was scheduled to appear in court for a Dec. 4 status hearing, but that was delayed to Feb. 3.

Long may not be in a U.S. jail had he not booked a flight through YVR due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After witnessing his wife give birth to their second child in November 2019 in Taiwan, Long returned to Guangdong to visit his mother, according to a Canadian immigration court. When the Wuhan coronavirus spread from Hubei to other Chinese provinces, Taiwan banned entry for travellers from Guangdong. Since Long has both permanent resident status and business holdings in Mexico, he arranged to travel there to reunite with his family.

Vancouver International Airport control tower (YVR)

After his YVR arrest, where he was interrogated and his Huawei smart phone was searched, Long was transferred to the North Fraser Pre-Trial Centre in Port Coquitlam and held in quarantine, even though he did not appear to be infected with the coronavirus.

The immigration court in Vancouver heard that Long is purchasing manager for a business owned by his parents-in-law that imports toys and clocks from Guangdong and sells from a warehouse in Mexico. Long, who holds a degree in international trade and economy from Guangdong University of Technology, has no criminal record.

Long had previously invested in Mexican hotels, restaurants and karaoke bars, as well as bitcoin.

There are some coincidences between Long’s case and that of Meng Wenzhou, the Huawei executive arrested Dec. 1, 2018 at Vancouver International Airport on a fraud warrant issued by a court in New York.

Like Meng, Long planned to switch flights at YVR to Mexico. Long had worked for another Shenzhen-based Chinese tech company, CK Telecom and had moved in 2012 to Mexico to set-up a supply chain. Meng’s husband, Liu “Carlos’ Xiaozong, is a former Huawei regional manager for Mexico.

Like Meng, Long provided the password for his cell phone to Canadian authorities. In his case, evidence was extracted from his phone and WeChat account about his business deals.

Meng, however, is free on $10 million bail, resides under a nightly curfew at a Shaughnessy mansion near the U.S. consulate compound, has bodyguards who have also worked at the nearby Chinese consulate, and wears a surveillance anklet to prevent her from fleeing Vancouver.

The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 3 that Meng is in talks with U.S. authorities about a potential plea bargain. 

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