MANHATTAN, NY—Two people were arrested by federal agents in New York’s Chinatown on Monday, April 17. Allegedly, the pair is connected to an underground Chinese government-run police station that was operating in Manhattan.

Lu Jianwang, 61, and Chen Jinping, 59, are accused of establishing and operating a police outpost in an office building in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The station is said to be run by China’s Ministry of Public Security, according to the United States Department of Justice. 

Lu and Chen allegedly worked to intimidate Chinese dissidents living in the United States with the mission to spread pro-China propaganda and to undermine faith in American democracy, reports indicate. Lu is accused of attempting to convince a pro-democracy dissident living in California to return home to China by threatening and harassing them.

Chen and Lu admitted to authorities earlier that they deleted numerous communications after they were informed that they were being investigated. Due to this action, the pair has been charged with obstruction of justice. 

The DOJ also charged 33 officers working for China’s MPS to intimidate dissidents and “official PRC government propaganda and narratives to counter the pro-democracy speech of Chinese dissidents.” 

The arrests were the result of a joint investigation into the underground police station conducted by the FBI and the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn.

The defendant Lu, most commonly known as “Henry Lu,” is said to be a naturalized American citizen who resides in the Bronx. According to tax records that were obtained in 2018, he is the president of America Changle Association NY which is a non-profit based in the same Chinatown office as the underground police outpost. 

Details surrounding Chen’s citizenship and profession have not been confirmed. Chen is a resident of Manhattan. 

“This prosecution reveals the Chinese government’s flagrant violation of our nation’s sovereignty by establishing a secret police station in the middle of New York City,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace in a statement. 

“It is simply outrageous that China’s Ministry of Public Security thinks it can get away with establishing a secret, illegal police station on U.S. soil to aid its effort to export repression and subvert our rule of law,” said Acting Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Kurt Ronnow in a statement. 

According to reports, dozens of unsanctioned outposts are operated around the world and have been found in countries like Canada and the Netherlands. A report from Newsweek that was published back in December 2022 found that nine “suspect Chinese proxy police stations and courts,” in cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as nine “Chinese Support Centers, were operated by the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic and international influence and apparatus.”