Portland Company Pleads Guilty to Lacey Act Violations
Contact: Halsey B. Frank
Assistant United States Attorney
Tel: (207) 780-3257
Portland, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that ISF Trading Company (“ISF”), of Portland, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to violating the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act is a federal law that prohibits trade in wildlife that has been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold.
ISF is a Maine company engaged in the business of buying seafood, including live sea urchins, from Maine and Canadian suppliers, processing that seafood, and selling it to domestic and foreign, mostly Asian, markets. According to court records, ISF bought Canadian sea urchins from a Canadian supplier, TGK Fisheries of Grand Manan, that was not authorized under Canadian law to export them to the United States. ISF brought them across the Calais Port of Entry under the false label of another Canadian supplier, Matthews Seafood (“Matthews”) of New Brunswick, Canada. At times, Matthews was authorized to export them. On seven occasions between December 31, 2010 and February 1, 2011, ISF illegally imported a total of about 48,000 pounds of sea urchins, whose processed roe was worth at least $172,800, from TGK through Calais under the Mathews label. The scheme was discovered in February 2011, when ISF attempted to import 8,000 pounds of sea urchins, using an invoice in the name of Matthews. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer became suspicious when he noticed that the totes containing the sea urchins did not have the labels required by law.
ISF faces up to five years of probation. Under its agreement with the United States, ISF faces up to $1,250,000 in fines and forfeitures for the violations.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.