Federal prosecutors say Philip Chaohui He purchased more than $550,000 worth of radiation-hardened memory chips from Colorado Springs manufacturer Aeroflex.
Employees at Aeroflex, though, became suspicious of He and tipped off federal authorities.
He was arrested by federal agents at the port of Long Beach, Calif, as he attempted to transfer the chips, disguised within containers of infant formula, to a Chinese-flagged freighter, federal prosecutors said.
“We have specific laws designed to protect sensitive American technology from getting into the wrong hands overseas,” U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a statement. “Defendant HE attempted to smuggle export-controlled radiation-hardened computer chips to China, and faces serious punishment for his criminal activity.”
He pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy charges in federal court. He faces a 5 year sentence.