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Press Release

Stockton Beekeeper Charged with Conspiring to Receive and Sell Smuggled Illegal Pesticides

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today against Paulo Perez-Mendoza, 44, of Stockton, charging him with conspiring to receive and sell smuggled pesticides into the United States and the unlawful distribution and sale of unregistered pesticides, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between Jan. 1, 2019 and March 18, 2024, Perez recruited another individual to smuggle illegal pesticides into the United States from Mexico and deliver them to Perez at his residential business, Perez Generation Honeybee Ranch, in Stockton. Between Sept. 9, 2020, and July 12, 2022, Perez purchased the Mexican pesticides 1,000 to 1,500 liters at a time and paid a total of approximately $476,680 for the banned product. Perez resold the pesticides to beekeepers in other states, including Oregon, Washington, Georgia, and Florida.

Only pesticides registered with the EPA may be imported or sold in the United States. They must bear their EPA registration number on their labels, preceded by the phrase “EPA Registration No.” or “EPA Reg. No.” In addition, all required information on a label must appear in the English language. The pesticides involved in this conspiracy were primarily Taktic and Bovitraz, which contain the active ingredient amitraz at an emulsifiable concentration of 12.5%, which, in this form, is an unregistered pesticide in the United States.

This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations and the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.

Perez is scheduled for arraignment on March 29, 2024. If convicted of the conspiracy charge, Perez faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted of the unlawful sale and distribution of pesticides. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 28, 2024