MIAMI – Aifa Seafood, Inc., (Aifa), a Florida corporation, and its president, Jiu Fa Chen, 57, of Parkland, Fla., have pled guilty to exporting falsely labeled spiny lobster from Florida to China.
According to court documents, including a Joint Factual Statement submitted by the parties, from May through August 2019, Aifa purchased seafood products for export to China. To meet the high demand for spiny lobster, Aifa imported lobster from Haiti for reexport to China. Aifa reexported approximately 5,900 pounds of lobster and falsely labeled the product in shipping documents as “Live Florida Spiny Lobsters, Product of U.S.A.”
Aifa faces a sentence of up to five years’ probation and a fine of up to $500,000. Chen faces a term of imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of $250,000, and a period of three years supervised release. Judge Moreno set the sentencing hearing for both defendants on May 23, at 9:30 a.m.
U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Director Manny Antonaras of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Southeast Division, acting Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Buckley, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami, and Major Alberto Maza, Regional Commander of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Division of Law Enforcement, South B Region, announced the convictions.
NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, HSI Key Largo, and FWC Division of Law Enforcement investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald is prosecuting the case.
If you have any information regarding this investigation, or other wildlife crimes, you may contact the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Hotline: (800) 853-1964 and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at 1-800-344-9453. Locally, environmental crimes, including wildlife violations and environmental justice matters may be reported to the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 305-961-9001 or USFLS.Environmental@usdoj.gov .
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 22-cr-20479.