MIAMI – A federal judge in Key West, Florida has sentenced Elite Sky International, Inc. (Elite), a company that operates on Overseas Highway in Marathon, to a quarter million dollar fine and five years of probation for exporting falsely labelled spiny lobster and shark fins from Florida to China.
According to court documents, from November 2018 through October 2019, Elite purchased seafood products for export to China. To meet the high demand for spiny lobster, Elite imported lobster from Nicaragua and Belize for reexport to China. Elite reexported approximately 63,000 pounds of lobster and falsely labeled the product in shipping documents as “Live Florida Spiny Lobsters, Product of U.S.A.” In a similar violation, Elite acquired shark fins from a licensed local fisherman in Florida and exported approximately 5,666 pounds of shark fins, falsely labeling he product either as “Live Florida Spiny Lobsters, Product of U.S.A.” or “Frozen Fish.”
The court ordered Elite to pay a total of $250,000 and placed it on probation for five years. Additionally, the court ordered, as special conditions of probation, that the company establish a corporate compliance program and retain third-party independent auditors to oversee their future activities.
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 sentence imposed by United States District Judge K. Michael Moore.
NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, HSI Miami, and FWC Division of Law Enforcement investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald prosecuted 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-10011.