WASHINGTON – Two individuals, David S. Wong and David Chu, were arrested today in Chicago and San Francisco, respectively, for charges related to conspiracy to import falsely labeled fish, the Justice Department announced. The indictment, which was returned on May 24, 2007 by a federal grand jury in the Central District of California, charges 10 seafood companies and six individuals for a scheme to import millions of pounds of falsely-labeled Vietnamese catfish into United States.
The companies named in the indictment include the Virginia Star Seafood Corporation, International Sea Products Corporation, Silver Seas Company, Blue Ocean Seafood Corporation, Cafatex, Anhaco, Antesco, Binh Dinh Import Export Company, Dakon International, and T.P. Company. The individuals include Henry Nguyen, Peter X. Lam, Arthur Yavelberg, David S. Wong, David Chu, and Henry Yip.
According to the indictment, between July 2004 and June 2005, defendants Virginia Star Seafood Corporation and International Sea Products Corporation, illegally imported from Vietnamese companies Binh Dinh, Antesco, and Anhaco, over ten million pounds of Vietnamese catfish by identifying the fish to Customs Border Protection officials as other species of fish such as sole, grouper, flounder and conger pike. As part of the conspiracy, after the Vietnamese catfish was imported into the United States, defendants Henry Nguyen, Peter Lam, and Arthur Yavelberg marketed and sold the illegally imported catfish to seafood buyers, including defendants Henry Yip of T.P. Company, David Wong of True World Foods, Inc., and David Chu of Dakon International.
An anti-dumping duty was placed on the importation of Vietnamese catfish on Jan. 31, 2003 after a petition was filed by the catfish farmers of America alleging that this fish was being sold in the United States at less than fair market value. The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to deceive customs agents in order to avoid this duty.
The case was investigated by special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Commerce, NOAA Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement, and the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations. Senior Trial Attorney Elinor Colbourn and Trial Attorney Mary Dee Caraway from the Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns from the Central District of California are prosecuting the case.