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Press Release

Individual And His Company Indicted For Violation Of The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide And Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, P.R. – On Thursday, August 16, 2019, a federal grand jury returned an eight-count indictment charging Tower & Son Exterminating, Corp. and its owner Wilson Javier Torres-Rivera for violations of FIFRA, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency are in charge of the investigation. 

Tower & Son Exterminating, Corp. is a Puerto Rico corporation that provided pest control services. According to the allegations in the indictment, Tower & Son Exterminating, Corp., and Wilson Javier Torres-Rivera, in the District of Puerto Rico and within the jurisdiction of this Court, acting as a commercial applicator, did knowingly apply the restricted-use pesticide Meth-O-Gas Q, containing methyl bromide, at the locations listed below, for the purpose of exterminating household pests, a use not in accordance with its registration and labeling:

1. August 19, 2014 at Cangrejos Yacht Club Carolina, PR

2. October 1, 2014 at Carr. 176 Km Camino Armando Marrero, PR

3. October 3, 2014 at Calle Estrella Del Mar, Dorado, PR

4. November 19, 2014 at Los Sueños Ciudad Jardín, Gurabo, PR

5. December 4, 2014 at Road 829 Km 6.2, Bayamón, PR

6. December 10, 2014 at Los Robles, Las Cumbres, San Juan, PR

7. January 12, 2015 at Los Robles, Las Cumbres, San Juan, PR

8. February 19, 2015 at Tejas Ward, Los Velázquez, Las Piedras, PR

All in violation of Title 7, United States Code, Sections 136j(a)(2)(G) and 136l(b)(1)(B).

Methyl bromide is acutely toxic and could be used only as a commodity fumigant for quarantine/regulatory use. According to its labeling, methyl bromide exposure could be fatal or cause acute illness or delayed lung or nervous system injury. Methyl bromide is odorless and nonirritating to skin and eyes during exposure. Early symptoms of overexposure are dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Lung edema may develop in 2 to 48 hours after exposure, accompanied by cardiac irregularities; these effects are the usual cause of death. Exposure to toxic levels of methyl bromide could occur without warning or detection.

“The highly dangerous actions of the defendant exposed both workers and the public to hazardous materials,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. “Today’s indictment underscores the importance of industry’s compliance with the law to ensure the protection of human health and the environment for the benefit of the people.”

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel from the Environmental Crimes Section, Howard P. Stewart and Assistant United States Attorney Carmen M. Marquez. An indictment is only an accusation and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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Updated April 4, 2024