Andrew Schneider Senior Public Health Correspondent
A70-page indictment, released in Chicago by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, reads like Cliffs Notes for a spy novel: smuggling, bogus shipping papers, phony lab tests, shipments to Chicago warehouses and small honey-packing plants in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. All that’s missing is the sex.
Eleven Chinese and German executives and six of their food supply and honey export companies were charged Wednesday with 44 counts of conspiring to illegally import Chinese-origin honey, including honey tainted with antibiotics, into the U.S. by mislabeling it as originating in other countries to avoid paying anti-dumping fees, Fitzgerald said.
Why the foreign intrigue with something as benign and universally loved as honey?
The one-word answer is money. Tens of millions of dollars, and that’s just what the field agents and federal prosecutors can prove at this point.
These are not nickel-and-dime scams.
“They are charged with conspiring to import more than $40 million of Chinese honey to avoid paying anti-dumping duties of approximately $80 million,” said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in the Pacific Northwest. (HSI was formally known as ICE, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)