UNITED States agents have arrested a Chinese national in North Carolina after a six-year probe into illegal military technology deals. Restaurateur Kao Yenmen, 54, faces deportation after he was allegedly caught conspiring to export equipment including a navy torpedo and a fighter jet engine. The early morning raid on his home in Charlotte has had the quiet Southern city amazed at the tale of apparent espionage. FBI officials refused to say where Kao was trying to steal the classified, embargoed hardware, or which country he was trying to sell it to - although China might have been the destination. Among the equipment involved was a US Navy MK 48 Advanced Capability Torpedo and a General Electric F404-400 jet engine used to power the military's F/A 18 Hornet fighter plane. An FBI agent said counter-intelligence agents, together with Customs officials, had been investigating Kao and other Chinese nationals since 1988. ''This protracted investigation yielded a significant amount of counter-intelligence information, which included the identities of numerous suspected intelligence operatives and commercial entities which were involved with Kao in his attempts to illegally acquire US technology,'' he said. The agent said a ''significant amount'' of money was involved in the alleged deals, but did not say how much. Kao has not been charged, and Immigration officials have begun proceedings to deport him from the county jail where he is being held. Agents say he can be deported because he has broken immigration laws regarding aliens involved in espionage or the export of sensitive materials. Kao's lawyer, Benjamin Li, said his client had professed his innocence. Kao is thought to have arrived in the US in 1971. He and his wife Kathy, also a resident alien, run a Chinese takeaway in Charlotte. They have two young daughters, both born in the US. Although the south-eastern states have a number of military bases, it is not known whether the equipment was to have been obtained direct from them or via commercial middlemen.