JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax reporter Russell Colburn spoke with military experts who said a local naval officer linked to a smuggling scheme and illegal gun trading with Chinese nationals may have threatened our national security.
A retired Navy admiral and captain said since Lt. Fan Yang had top secret clearance, investigators will have their hands full to see if anything has been compromised.
The FBI said for the last five years, Yang worked at Naval Air Station Jacksonville part of an anti-submarine division and held that clearance level since 2012.
Lt. Yang and his wife are accused of illegally helping a Chinese national purchase firearms and then lying about it to the FBI.
According to newly released federal documents, Lt. Yang is charged in a scheme that used a shell company to "smuggle goods from the U.S." The documents state the goods came in the form of military boats and potentially sensitive technology.
"He's a multilayered threat, multilayered problem here," said retired Navy Captain Rick Hoffman.
Hoffman served in the Navy for 28 years.
He said because Yang had top secret clearance and was assigned to the Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Weapons School, he was trusted with secrets about tactics and techniques used in anti-submarine warfare.
"He's already accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars, he's already violated the law willingly, the idea that somebody could then turn him to betray more secrets of our nation is quite real, if it hasn't already happened," Hoffman said. "It's absolutely a real problem."
Hoffman said now that they have Yang in custody, it's something the FBI and NCIS will now focus on.
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"Whether he was initially recruited as a spy, or whether he subsequently exposed himself to that kind of vulnerability, I don't know," Hoffman said. "The FBI and NCIS will figure that out. But, could he potentially have been turned, and created bigger security problem for us, absolutely."
Hoffman said if that was the case, the fallout could be severe.
"Once they discover our weaknesses, we have to them spend enormous amounts of money to then fix those, or worse yet, we may not know that they've been exposed and those vulnerabilities remain, even when we go into combat," Hoffman said.
Action News Jax reached out to the FBI about any potential secrets being leaked and they said they can't confirm or deny any investigation.
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