Zhang, 48, of Windham, NH, and Zeng, 47, of Quincy, are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and unlicensed money transmission, the statement said. Also charged are Vincent Feng, 32, of Quincy; Da Zeng, 30, of Massachusetts; Wei Qing Zeng, 58, of Quincy; Xian Rong Zeng, 45, of Hanover; and Qiu Fang Zeng, 59, of Windham, NH, the statement said.
Another defendant, Chengzou Liu, 36, of Braintree, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins said the eight had developed elaborate conspiracies inside businesses that on the outside appeared to be operating legally.
“This indictment should serve as a serious warning to both drug traffickers and business operators who engage in illegal money laundering: your conduct is criminal and you will be prosecuted under federal law,” Rollins said.
Prosecutors allege Zhang and Zeng used their businesses as fronts for an extensive money laundering and money transmission scheme involving several associates, including their relatives Wei Qing Zeng, Xian Rong Zeng and Qiu Fang Zeng, the statement said.
The group accepted drug proceeds in Boston and New York for a fee, then transferred the equivalent value in Chinese currency to traffickers’ bank accounts and sold the drug money to people in the United States at a reduced exchange rate, according to prosecutors.
By keeping their transactions off the books, the group conspired to hide the source of the money and avoid US and Chinese reporting requirements, the statement said.
Members of the group also allegedly used stolen or fraudulent gift cards to buy thousands of Apple products and ship the items to places such as Dubai, accepting tens of millions of dollars in payments through wire transfers, according to the statement.
Liu allegedly trafficked marijuana and laundered proceeds through China Gourmet, distributing “large amounts of drug proceeds, typically in excess of $30,000” to the restaurant and Qiu Mei Zeng to launder the money, according to prosecutors.
In March, investigators allegedly seized more than $250,000 in suspected marijuana proceeds hidden under frozen meat in Wei Qing Zeng’s vehicle while en route from New York to the restaurant in Boston, the statement said.
Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jeremyfox.