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Boyfriend of Chinese national who died in prison pled guilty to deleting evidence connecting them to human trafficking

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

A Chinese man pleaded guilty to conspiring to tamper with evidence connecting him and his late girlfriend to a human trafficking operation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Wednesday.

New York resident and Chinese national Xu Zhang, 31, conspired with his girlfriend Gao Xing to destroy and conceal evidence connecting the pair to a trafficking ring, according to ICE officials. Zhang was indicted in September 2019 and is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 15, 2021.

Zhang visited Xing when she was in federal custody being investigated in connection with an international human trafficking operation in September 2019, according to ICE. Xing told Zhang to delete contacts and conversations from her WeChat account, the site is a combined messaging, social media and payment app based in China.

Xing instructed Zhang to contact her mother who lives in China for the information he needed to access her account, ICE reported. Zhang was told to change Xing’s WeChat username and delete any incriminating evidence.

“During a telephone call from the jail the next day, Zhang confirmed to Xing that he had deleted the information requested and changed Xing’s WeChat name in an attempt to delete and destroy material information related to her WeChat account,” according to ICE.

Xing committed suicide in her cell on Nov. 1, 2019, ICE reported. Zhang faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

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