Chinese national Song Guo Zheng, proven to have intimate connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was deported from the United States last month by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He had been convicted of defrauding the U.S. after being charged in 2020 for lying to federal officers as part of an immunology research fraud scheme.
The program was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Zheng planned to use these funds to increase China’s knowledge in rheumatology and immunology.
Zheng pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced in 2021 to 37 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay over $3.4 million in restitution to the NIH and approximately $413,000 to The Ohio State University. After being released from an Ohio federal prison, a federal immigration court ordered his removal from the U.S. in late 2022.
On January 6, 2023, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) rearrested Zheng. They began the removal process that ended on February 17 when he was flown from Detroit to Shanghai, China, where he was turned over to local authorities.
According to ICE, Zheng’s attempt to defraud the U.S. was part of China’s “Talent Plan.” That program is designed to facilitate CCP recruitment of individuals with knowledge or access to foreign technology intellectual property. Zheng concealed his participation in the Talent Plan while obtaining the NIH grants.
“Zheng’s actions sought to rob taxpayers for the benefit of a foreign government,” said ERO Detroit acting Field Office Director Matthew Putra. “Our officers’ commitment to public safety includes foreign nationals who present national security risks and seek to defraud the American people.”
Although Zheng’s attempt to escape with information in 2020 was thwarted, he is expected to provide all he can remember to his Chinese handlers, given his tight connections with the CCP.
ICE officers make enforcement decisions on an individualized basis based on their experience and with the goal of prioritizing protection against the greatest threats to the homeland.
ERO operations target public safety threats, such as convicted criminal noncitizens and gang members who have violated U.S. immigration law. The office specifically targets criminals who have illegally re-entered the country after having been previously removed and also fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.