A Chinese citizen wanted by the United States on money laundering charges was arrested en route to Mexico, where he planned to reunite with his wife and children after coronavirus kept them apart.
But then he was quarantined in a Vancouver-area jail while waiting to go before an immigration adjudicator.
A Canadian border guard’s statement, obtained by theBreaker.news, said Long Huanxin, 32, was detained Feb. 5 at Vancouver International Airport. The Department of Homeland Security told Canada Border Services Agency a day earlier that a four-count bench warrant for Long’s arrest had been issued March 8, 2019 from the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division in Chicago.
After witnessing his wife give birth to their second child late last November in Taiwan, Long, who also goes by Kevin, returned to Guangdong to visit his mother. 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 be with his family again.
Long travelled from Guangzhou on China Southern flight CZ-329 to Vancouver and presented himself at 9:50 a.m. on Feb. 5 to a border agent at YVR. He was diverted to secondary screening. Different CBSA officers interrogated him on Feb. 5 and 6 and searched his Huawei smartphone before transferring him to North Fraser Pre-Trial Centre in Port Coquitlam.
Then another coronavirus complication.
Long’s originally scheduled Feb. 7 detention review hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board was delayed until Feb. 11. Long was quarantined because he had arrived from China.
“There have been issues regarding Mr. Long as a result of the protocol that’s been put in place by North Fraser Pre-Trial Centre,” CBSA hearings officer Ryan Friesen told an IRB adjudicator at the Feb. 11 hearing. “The Minister acknowledges that Mr. Long is asymptomatic. It’s not a question of whether or not he is suspected to be ill with coronavirus, but rather the precautions that are being taken by the Correction Centre itself, which are, again, outside the Minister’s control.”
The IRB was told that the U.S. alleges Long had been contracted to arrange for the collection of narcotic proceeds in various U.S. cities and was also responsible for the repatriation of those illicit funds to various transnational cartels in Mexico.
theBreaker.news contacted Nicole Navas Oxman of the U.S. Department of Justice, but she declined comment.
There was yet another coronavirus-related delay in the case.
An RCMP liaison officer based in China, who was supposed to help gain more information on Long, was seconded to CFB Trenton Ontario for the operation to evacuate and quarantine Canadians from Wuhan.
At the IRB hearing, Long’s lawyer, Vanessa De Jong, called her client’s detention unjustified and said he never intended to remain in Canada.
De Jong told the IRB that Long holds a degree in international trade and economy from Guangdong University of Technology and he has no criminal record. 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.
He had previously invested in the Mexican hotels, restaurants and karaoke bars company called Domi, but sold those investments. He had also invested in bitcoin, but cashed-out because of the cryptocurrency’s volatility, De Jong said.
“All of the evidence before you today points to Mr. Long being involved in completely lawful business,” De Jong said. “And given that any evidence that may say otherwise is under seal, and even if you do find that the CBSA do — do have reasonable grounds to suspect Mr. Long is involved in organized criminality, which, of course, we say that they do not, we submit that the Minister has not demonstrated that there are any steps available to them to inquire into the suspicion.”
IRB ordered Long to remain in custody. He was arrested Feb. 14 on a provisional warrant seeking his extradition to the U.S. and made short appearances in B.C. Supreme Court via video link on Feb. 26 and March 11. His next date is March 25.
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 worked at the nearby Chinese consulate, and wears a surveillance anklet to prevent her from fleeing Vancouver.
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