U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Government Website

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Safely connect using HTTPS

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. HSI Baltimore Investigation Leads to Guilty Plea for 20-Year Fugitive for Conspiring To Export Defense Equipment to Iran

HSI Baltimore Investigation Leads to Guilty Plea for 20-Year Fugitive for Conspiring To Export Defense Equipment to Iran

Release Date: February 7, 2024

BALTIMORE — An investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic field office led to En-Wei Eric Chang pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy related to exporting defense materials to Iran. Such materials are embargoed under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.

Chang, a 48-year-old citizen of the United States and the Republic of Taiwan, was a fugitive from justice in the United States for 20 years. He pleaded guilty Jan. 31 at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Chang was on HSI’s list of most wanted fugitives.

“Justice may have been delayed, but it was not denied. Mr. Chang evaded capture and prosecution for two decades, but eventually, his past caught up to him,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris. “Thanks to the relentless work of HSI Baltimore, DCIS, and the U.S. attorney’s office, our resolve to bring Mr. Chang to justice remained steadfast for the safety and security of our country. We must not allow export controlled items and technology to end up in the hands of rogue states and dangerous individuals.”

Exporting arms, munitions, military aircraft parts, and related components and technology from the United States is strictly controlled. The Munitions List is a catalog of designated “defense articles” that are subject to certain export and import restrictions. Any person who intends to export these defense articles from the United States is first required to obtain a license; to do that, they must identify where the goods are going. At the time of the conspiracy, it was U.S. policy to deny licenses, other approvals, and exports of defense articles destined for Iran.

From January 2002 and March 2003, Chang conspired with David Chu to ship items on the Munitions List to Iran without obtaining proper licensing. Chu had a business relationship with an Iranian businessman and was the sole person in contact with him during the conspiracy. In 2001, Chu became acquainted with Chang through Chang’s work as an electrical component supplier.

In January 2002, the Iranian businessman requested that Chu research satellite imagery dealers. Chu asked Chang to facilitate this request, and Chang agreed to do so. Shortly thereafter, Chang emailed a Maryland corporation to acquire high-definition satellite space images of Tehran, Iran, for export from the United States to Iran. An undercover government agent based in Maryland ultimately responded to Chang, pretending to be a businessman who could help him acquire the satellite images from a defense contractor. The undercover agent told Chang, “If the items are going for end use in Iran, sending them there would be a violation of U.S. law.” Chang wrote back that the images could be sent to Taiwan, and that “from Taiwan to Iran my friend will take care of it.”

Chang and the undercover agent communicated over several months regarding the status of the satellite images order. After Chu’s Iranian contact asked him to research and source antennas, on March 12, 2002, Chang contacted the undercover agent asking for quotes on antennas and included specific part numbers for cavity-backed spiral antennas with military applications, including those related to the detection and surveillance of ground-based radar, that were on the U.S. Munitions List. The undercover agent agreed to attempt to source the antennas.

Chang admitted that he knew that acquiring the antennas from the United States for to Iran without proper licensing was a violation of U.S. laws. He also knew that he did not have the proper license or authorization.

As detailed in the investigation, the undercover agent ultimately quoted prices for various models of antennas and noted that the U.S.-based manufacturer “won’t even accept order without approved export license up front.” Chang repeatedly urged the undercover agent to act faster and on July 19, 2002, Chang wrote, “Please understand our final end user is Iran. ‘the country’ They will keep buying the stuff if we can always deliver … The Iran guy promises [my co-conspirator, Chu] a 10 million USD business [per] year if we can really do this.”

On July 31, 2002, Chang provided Chu with banking information from the undercover agent to transfer $6,400 to the undercover agent as a 50% down payment on the cavity-backed antennas, which would take approximately five months to produce.

From March 2002 through January 2003, Chang kept in regular contact with the undercover agent regarding the antennas and asked for pricing information that he indicated was requested by his “buyer” in Iran. The items included an anti-submarine and surveillance radar system for installation on helicopters and airplanes, military-grade night-vision goggles for use by pilots, helicopters and helicopter engines, 10 handheld laser range-finders and other military items.

By January 2003, the cavity-backed spiral antennas had been produced in the United States. Chang, Chu and the undercover agent agreed to transfer them in Guam so Chu could transfer them to Iran. In February 2003, Chu traveled to Guam and picked them up from the undercover agent, then checked them in his luggage for a flight to Taipei, Taiwan. U.S. authorities arrested him and seized his luggage before he boarded the flight.

The undercover agent, via email, informed Chang of his true identity in March 2003 and told him that he had been indicted in the District of Maryland with conspiracy to export U.S. Munitions List items to Iran, and that his co-conspirator Chu was in U.S. Marshals Service custody. The undercover agent encouraged Chang to turn himself in. A week later, Chang met with U.S. officials in Taiwan who told him that he should consider surrendering to the United States on the current charges. He declined.

Chang remained a fugitive until his arrest on April 10, 2023, at Rome-Fiumicino International Airport in Italy. He was extradited to the United States.

Chu, 48, of Monterey Park, California, pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and was sentenced Feb. 23, 2004, to two years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Chang faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for May 8, 2024, at 11 a.m.

“HSI takes all violations of U.S. laws extremely seriously, especially those that threaten the security of our nation,” Harris said. “Mr. Chang, with the help of his co-conspirator, not only attempted to subvert those laws and weaken our national security; he then fled justice and remained a fugitive for 20 years. Mr. Chang couldn’t hide forever, and thanks to the uncompromising work of HSI Baltimore and our law enforcement partners, he will be forced to face the justice system that he sought to flee.”

“National security is a top priority, and we will relentlessly pursue and hold accountable those who put us at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

Anyone with information about potential violations of U.S. sanctions is encouraged to call the HSI Tip Line at 877-4-HSI-TIP (877-447-4847). The HSI Tip Line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to increase public safety in your community on X, formerly known as Twitter, @HSIBaltimore.

Last Updated: 04/22/2024
Was this page helpful?
This page was not helpful because the content