Tag Archives: Justice Department

Overfishing Operation Nets Three Eel Traffickers

Three men pleaded guilty Thursday to trafficking juvenile American eels — a species at risk of overfishing as harvesters try to meet demand in the East Asian markets.,, “Operation Broken Glass” has resulted in 18 guilty pleas in Maine, Virginia and South Carolina.  The defendants are responsible collectively for the illegally trafficking of more than $4.5 million worth of elvers. William Sheldon, Timothy Lewis, and Charles Good joined the list on Thursday, pleading guilty before a federal judge in Portland, Maine, to violations of the Lacey Act. click here to read the story 14:53

Aquarium-Business Owner Admits to Trafficking Protected Corals

The owner of an aquarium business in Puerto Rico pleaded guilty Wednesday to harvesting protected reef creatures and selling them off island. Aristides Sanchez ran his saltwater aquarium business, Wonders of the Reef Aquarium, in his hometown of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Prosecutors say native Puerto Rican marine species accounted for a large part of Sanchez’s business, and that he sent live specimens to customers in the mainland United States and foreign countries by commercial courier services. “From January 2013 to March 2016, Sanchez sent or caused to be sent at least 130 shipments of falsely labeled marine species that were illegally harvested in the waters of Puerto Rico,” the Justice Department says. click here to read the story 13:25

Loss of ‘Codfather’ permits could hurt New Bedford

By late morning just before Easter weekend, three fishing vessels lined up at the docks to unload their catch, and they all belonged to one man — the local mogul known as the “Codfather,” Carlos Rafael. “It’s a good haul,” a passing auction worker at the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction said under her breath, as crew members, some still in their orange waterproof bibs, unloaded the ice-packed fish. But now, Rafael’s recent conviction on federal charges that he cheated fishing regulations to boost his profits is putting his many vessels and permits up for grabs — potentially distributing them to ports along the New England coast. That would deliver an economic blow to New Bedford and the people who depend on the business created by Rafael’s fleet. If his permits are seized as expected, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the regulatory agency known as NOAA, could reissue the permits to fishermen elsewhere in the region. “There are a lot more innocent people who could get punished by this,” said Jim Kendall, a former fisherman who runs New Bedford Seafood Consulting. click here to read the story 09:00

Fishing mogul’s arrest ripples across New Bedford waterfront – What about the quota?

AR-160229553.jpg&MaxW=315&MaxH=315Frustration and sadness moved across the waterfront Friday as news spread that Carlos Rafael and his bookkeeper had been arrested by the Justice Department and charged with making false filings to the government as a means of skirting fisheries laws. One waterfront business manager who did not wish to be identified said that Friday was a “sad day” for the fishing industry, one that is going to hurt in a lot of ways. Seafood consultant James Kendall said he is worried about the effect Rafael’s arrest is going to have on the reputation of the city and its important fishing industry. Mayor Jon Mitchell, a former federal prosecutor, said he had read the affidavit from an undercover agent on the case. “Based on my experience if the allegations are true, then he’s going to federal prison for a long time,” he said. Read the rest here 08:23

Bronx wholesaler pleads guilty – Plea Shows Fraud Afoot in Fulton Fish Market

A fishmonger pleaded guilty Tuesday to a systematic cover-up related to the excessive harvesting of fluke, scup and black sea bass in New York. Assistant Attorney General John Cruden noted that the Fulton Fish Market dealer’s case was especially “aggravated because the participants took advantage of a federal program designed to study fish populations and enable law-abiding fishermen to increase their catch.” Read the rest here 12:57

12 Eastern Carolina commercial fishermen charged with illegally harvesting and selling Atlantic Striped Bass

Thirteen commercial fishermen in North Carolina and Georgia have been charged in federal court in Raleigh for their role in the illegal harvest and sale and false reporting of approximately 90,000 pounds of Atlantic striped bass from federal waters off the coast of North Carolina during 2009 and 2010, according to the . This investigation began as a result of the U.S. Coast Guard boarding of the fishing vessel Lady Samaira in February 2010, based on a complaint that multiple vessels were fishing Striped Bass illegally. Read the rest here 09:05

Could BP, Feds settle in massive 2010 oil spill civil case? Experts weigh in

BP faces a top fine of $13.7 billion for its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, down from a possible $18 billion after a federal judge ruled Thursday that the spill was smaller than the federal government had estimated. Legal experts count the ruling as a victory for BP,, The Justice Department and BP have spent months preparing for the three-week trial, which will determine how much BP owes in pollution fines under the Clean Water Act. Read the rest here  17:52

Jones Inlet Seafood Co., Executives plead guilty to committing fraud, falsifying records and violating the Lacey Act.

Jones Inlet Seafood Co., the company’s president, Michael G. Mihale and company vice president Bruce Larson Jr. admitted they underreported the amount of summer flounder they caught between June 2009 and December 2011 by 56,000 pounds, the Department of Justice announced. Read more here  10:33 From US Justice

California shark fin ban heads to appeals court with federal backing for reversal

The brief late last month states that California’s new law “obstructs the use of fishery resources lawfully obtained in federal waters.” Federal acts, including the Shark Finning Prohibition Act in 2000 and Shark Conservation Act  in 2010, sought to protect the endangered species without sinking the commercial fishing industry. [email protected]