Feds bust $100M international crime with Del. links

January 9, 2013 4:08:45 AM PST
Federal agents announced Tuesday they have cracked a major case of international espionage, high tech organized crime, and piracy that could have posed a risk to our national security.

The investigation was launched in Wilmington, Delaware, but it spans halfway across the world.

Agents traveled all the way to Saipan to bust 36-year-old Xiang Li from China.

Officials lured him to a Saipan hotel, posing as American businessmen interested in expanding Li's business to America, but now Li is behind bars in Philadelphia.

Li is accused of organizing a team of international criminals to crack encrypted codes on pirated software. He then allegedly sold the sensitive material to anyone who could pay for it.

"The type of software as has been noted was high technology software used in a number of applications including defense, engineering, aerospace and satellite tracking," Assistant US Attorney David Hall said.

Investigators say Li sold more than $100-million worth of illegal software around the world to simulate explosives, build radar technology, and some that detailed United States helicopter designs.

"You could do a lot of damage with selling these materials, and some of the biggest customers were individuals in the United States," US Attorney Charles Oberly said.

A NASA engineer, Cosburn Wedderburn, and a Department of Defense contractor, Wronald Best, were two of Li's biggest American buyers. Both are now in custody facing federal conspiracy charges.

"This is organized crime, pure and simple. Hackers are literally stealing sophisticated US software, cracking the codes and selling it on the street," ICE agent John Morton said.

Investigators found the software has been sold to unknown individuals in more than 60 countries, including Syria and Yemen.

There is no telling what these purchasers are planning to do with it.

Li is now facing 25 years behind bars.