Pompano Beach Resident Charged with Illegally Trafficking in Marine Life
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Tracey Dunn, Acting Special Agent in Charge, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, and Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), announce that Eric Burman, 60, of Boca Raton, was arraigned Friday in Key West for conspiring with others to transport, sell, receive, acquire, and purchase Florida spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) with a fair market value in excess of $350.00, knowing that said Florida spiny lobster was taken, possessed, transported, and sold in foreign commerce, in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, in violation of Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(2)(A) and 3373(d)(1).
Burman faces a possible sentence of up to five years in prison, a term of supervised release of up to three years, and a criminal fine of up to $250,000.
According to the allegations of the information filed against him, at the relevant times, Burman was President and the sole Director of a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Pompano Beach. Burman, through the business entity, was engaged in the wholesale commercial seafood industry, including the export of live Florida spiny lobster to the seafood market in China.
The information further alleges that during August and September 2010, Burman and others, purchased spiny lobster from harvesters in Monroe County without creating and providing to the harvesters and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, trip tickets reflecting the transaction. Thereafter, a co-conspirator of Burman’s caused the lobster to be transported to the corporate business premises in Pompano Beach for packing and shipping in foreign commerce. Burman agreed to permit a co-conspirator to package, mark, and ship spiny lobster under the corporate business entity’s name and through the corporation’s shipping agent. The lobster would ultimately be transported from the business premises in Pompano Beach to a commercial airfreight carrier located at Miami International Airport for export from the United States to Hong Kong, China.
The information, in a series of “overt acts”, describes multiple instances when specific shipments of spiny lobster were made to China by air freight, and the unlicensed and undocumented purchase of spiny lobsters in the Florida Keys.
Mr. Ferrer commended the joint investigative efforts of the NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and ICE-HSI. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Watts-FitzGerald and Antonia Barnes.
An information is only an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.