Gifford Chang, 44, of Honolulu, was arrested today after being charged in a federal criminal complaint with smuggling goods into the United States; making false statements to illegally bring goods into the country; and importing explosive material without a license, all occurring in December 2009. The complaint was filed today.
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to the affidavit filed with the complaint, Chang was the registered agent for Tiger Corporation, the listed importer of four groups of cartons in a shipping container which were
determined to contain 1.3G type “commercial fireworks.” Chang and Tiger Corporation were licensed to import “consumer grade” fireworks (1.4G type), but neither had the requisite license to import 1.3G type fireworks. The affidavit further related that as part of the investigation HSI seized these fireworks, which were, except for some samples, destroyed in an explosion on April
The investigation was conducted by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after officers with the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspected the shipping container in Honolulu on December 6, 2009, upon its arrival from Shanghai, China.
“This month’s deadly explosion was a tragic reminder about the profound dangers of illegally imported fireworks,” said Wayne Wills, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Honolulu. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing a growing volume of illegal fireworks being smuggled
into Hawaii. Given the public safety risks, targeting those involved in these activities is a top priority for HSI and its law enforcement partners.”
“ATF shares those sentiments. The public must remember, all fireworks contain explosive materials that pose a serious hazard when not properly handled,” said Jordan Lowe, resident agent in charge of ATF’s Honolulu field office. “The ATF will continue to aggressively enforce the nation’s federal explosives laws.”
Chang is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court at 3:00 p.m. today (Friday). If indicted and convicted of the charges, he faces maximum penalties of 20 years in prison for smuggling, two years for making false statements, and ten years for importing
explosives without a license. Charges in a complaint are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until indicted and proven guilty. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney William L. Shipley.
Submitted by the US attorney’s office