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Illinois-Based Company Charged With Honey Smuggling

By Sean Stillmaker in News on Sep 4, 2010 4:00PM

Photo by WPBarr
Prosecutors have filed indictments on the grounds that instead of paying America $80 million in taxes for honey, alleged conspirators smuggled it onto the market. Most of the individuals and companies charged are connected to the German based conglomerate Alfred L. Wolffe. Between 2002-2009 the scheme had over 600 barrels of Chinese honey imported into the U.S. with their destination of origin improperly marked.

The barrels were labeled coming from the Philippines, Russia and other countries, instead of its native China, which has a tariff of $1.20 a pound on honey. China’s beehive production has been increasing since 1999 with the honey demand also increasing. But the U.S. production has been at a loss.

Officials at the press conference stressed the honey is safe and is not expecting illnesses. However, a five month investigation by the Seattle Post Intelligencer found the Chinese imported honey had an animal antibiotic - chloramphenicol - injected into it because it treated diseases from their beehives. The FDA has banned that drug in any food product.

Chicago’s indictment was announced at the heels of guilty plea for the same offense in Seattle. Chung Po Liu pleaded guilty on two counts of smuggling Chinese honey that was also adulterated with Ciprofloxian, another banned drug by the FDA. Liu was charged in 2009; he now most forfeit twice his gross profit, $400,000, and four seized honey shipments. He could also face two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 29.