Two Chinese Nationals Indicted on Federal Kidnapping and Extortion Charges in Scheme Involving $2 Million Ransom Demand

Los Angeles–Two Chinese nationals have been indicted on federal charges that allege they kidnapped another Chinese national and attempted to collect $2 million in ransom from the victim’s family in exchange for the victim’s life.

Peicheng Shen and Guangyao Yang (image credit: FBI)

Guangyao Yang, 25, and Peicheng Shen, 33, whose last known U.S. residences were in West Covina, were charged in a four-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on February 22. The indictment charges the two defendants with conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping, attempted extortion in violation of the Hobbs Act, and threat by foreign communication.

According to court documents, Shen, using an alias, met the victim, Ruochen Liao, a Santa Ana resident, several times on the pretense that Shen would help the victim collect a debt from another individual. During their third meeting, at a San Gabriel shopping center on July 16, 2018, Shen allegedly kidnapped the victim and then, along with Yang, held the victim hostage at a house in Corona. At that house, Shen and Yang allegedly confined the victim by binding his legs together, taping his eyes shut, restraining his arms behind him, and confining him in a closet.

The day after the kidnapping, the victim’s father received a demand for a $2 million ransom in exchange for the victim’s life, with the money to be deposited into three Chinese bank accounts within three hours, court documents allege. The victim’s father also received photographs of the victim, who was physically restrained in a closet, according to court documents.

Investigators believe the victim died during the course of the kidnapping, and they are seeking the public’s assistance in locating his body.

The indictment further alleges that on July 18, defendants Shen and Yang attempted to conceal evidence of the crime. Specifically, defendants Shen and Yang drove to the area of Mojave, California, to bury or otherwise dispose of the victim’s body or other physical evidence involved in the crime. Further, on that same day, Shen allegedly had the closet of the Corona house re-carpeted. Yang also performed an Internet search to determine, in effect, how fast a corpse decomposes in soil, court papers state.

Shen and Yang currently are believed to be in China.

The two kidnapping-related charges carry a statutory maximum penalty of life in federal prison. The extortion and threat by foreign communication charges each carry a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.