HOUSTON— Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have seized since October illegally imported Chinese honey valued at $2.45 million destined for U.S. consumers.
The seized illicit honey that was abandoned or forfeited totals 660 barrels weighing 203,280 kilograms (448,156 lbs.). The containers’ shipping documents indicated the bulk honey originated in Latvia.
HSI and CBP have stepped up efforts regarding commercial fraud investigations that focus on U.S. economic, and health and safety interests. Anti-dumping schemes create a divergent market that negatively affects legitimate businesses.
“Helping to ensure a safe food supply is an important component of border security,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. “HSI and our law enforcement partners are committed to working together on behalf of the American people to identify and remove potentially dangerous or adulterated products from store shelves to help keep our families safe. We also work to ensure that no one benefits from circumventing U.S. trade and import laws.”
In December 2001, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed anti-dumping duties after determining that Chinese-origin honey was being sold in the United States at less than fair-market value. The duties first imposed were as high as 221 percent of the declared value. Later these duties were assessed against the entered net weight, currently at $2.63 per net kilogram, in addition to a “honey assessment fee” of one cent per pound of all honey.
In 2008, federal authorities began investigating allegations of organizations on the “supply side” of the honey industry that were circumventing anti-dumping duties through illegal imports, including transshipment and mislabeling. In October 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert for honey containing the antibiotic Chloramphenicol, a broad spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat serious infections in humans, that is not approved for use in honey. Honey containing certain antibiotics is deemed “adulterated” within the meaning of federal food and drug safety laws.
This is an ongoing investigation with assistance provided by HSI Frankfurt Attaché Office and Latvian customs authorities.