Washington, DC– The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York has charged four men for their part in an alleged plot to import mislabeled fish into the United States. The defendants were arrested Thursday, February 18th and will appear before a judge Friday, February 19.
“This is a great example of agencies focusing enforcement efforts on fish fraud and having an impact,” said John Petrizzo Director of Operations for Harbor Seafood, Inc. and Chair of the Better Seafood Board. “Here we see the United States Attorney, Department of Homeland Security, NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and USDA’s Inspector General all working together to investigate and prosecute these suspects. Dedicating those kinds of resources to a fish fraud case sends a loud and clear message.”
Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh called the suspects part of a “transnational criminal organization.” The scheme allegedly involved bringing mislabeled fish in from Myanmar and Bangladesh for sale through a company called Asia Foods Distributor Inc. The criminal complaint shows law enforcement tracking mislabeled shipments as far back as 2018. Investigators describe the alleged crime as a “very lucrative scheme.”
“We don’t need new laws or more regulations, we need enforcement and that’s what we are seeing today from these federal agencies,” said Petrizzo. “Hats off to them and their efforts to stamp out fish fraud.”
The Better Seafood Board (BSB) was established by the National Fisheries Institute to provide a mechanism for industry’s partners in the supply chain – restaurants, retail operations, producers and processors – to report suppliers suspected of committing economic fraud.