60 tons of honey illegally imported from China seized by federal authorities in Chicago

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Friday, May 6, 2016
The three shipping container loads (195 barrels) of bulk honey were illegally smuggled into the United States from China.

Federal agents in Chicago have seized 60 tons of illegally imported Chinese honey valued at more than $200,000 destined for U.S. consumers, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Thursday.

Authorities with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) found three shipping container loads (195 barrels) of bulk honey on April 28 that was falsely declared as originating from Vietnam to evade anti-dumping duties applicable to Chinese-origin honey.

In March, officials in Chicago were notified of the suspect honey by a Midwest honey packer who obtained laboratory reports that "appeared fraudulently altered," officials said.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) laboratory in Savannah, Ga., determined that the honey had a greater than 99 percent probability match with Chinese-origin honey.

The investigation continues to determine where in the supply chain the private laboratory reports were altered for the honey, authorities said.

In December 2001, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed anti-dumping duties after determining that Chinese-origin honey was being sold in the United States at less than fair-market value.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, "In 2008, federal authorities in Chicago began investigating allegations of organizations circumventing anti-dumping duties through illegal imports, including transshipment and mislabeling, on the "supply side" of the honey industry. The second phase of the investigation involved the illegal buying, processing and trading of honey that illegally entered the U.S. on the "demand side" of the industry. In these multi-year investigations, HSI Chicago and the Department of Justice together convicted nine individuals (not including 10 remaining foreign fugitives) in a series of global schemes which evaded nearly $260 million in anti-dumping duties on honey from China and which also involved honey containing antibiotics prohibited in food."