KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WIBW) -- A Manhattan scientist is one of two men charged with trying to smuggle seed samples back to their native China, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom announced on Thursday.
Weiqiang Zhang, 47, and 63 year-old Wengui Yan, of Stuttgart, Ark., are each charged with a lone count of conspiracy to steal trade secrets.
Grissom's office said U.S. Customs and Border Protection found stolen seeds in the luggage of a Chinese delegation who were on their way back home in August. Zhang and Yan had arranged the visit, according to the complaint.
The pair had also gone to China together to visit a Crops Research Institute last year. While there they met some of the members of the Chinese delegation that came to the U.S. this year.
The U.S. Attorney's Office noted the company for which Yan worked had invested around $75 million to create the patented technologies needed to create the variety of seeds, which contain recombinant proteins.