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Smuggler of roasted eel could get up to 21 years in federal prison

Frozen roasted eel packaged in a clear packaging with yellow borders.
Packaged frozen roasted eel that was seized from a wholesale company based in the City of Industry.
(U.S. Department of Justice)
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A Pomona man faces up to 21 years in federal prison after attempting to sneak into the country frozen roasted eels that had been rejected for entry because they were tainted with unsafe animal drugs.

Kevin Sheng Hsiang Fang, 41, and his wholesale business Yong Chang Trading Co. in the City of Industry pleaded guilty May 31 to smuggling and introducing the adulterated frozen roasted eels to interstate commerce.

Fang will face a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison at his scheduled sentencing Aug. 14.

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In February 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tested one of Fang’s shipments, consisting of 2,100 cartons of frozen roasted eels, and found it to be unsafe for human consumption.

Fang attempted to re-import those rejected eels later that year by mixing them with a new shipment of eels and using different identification numbers that are needed when bringing goods to the U.S., said Assistant U.S. Atty. Amanda M. Bettinelli, who is prosecuting the case.

“This individual showed complete disregard for the health and safety of the U.S. consumer by knowingly bringing tainted products into the market,” Eddy Wang, acting special agent in charge at Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles, said in a press release.

One shipment contained roasted eels that were tainted with antifungal and antiparastic agents that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use on seafood. According to the FDA, prolonged exposure to those materials can have a carcinogenic effect.

Bettinelli said agents with the FDA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized that Fang was again attempting to import the rejected eels when they noticed holes in them from where samples had previously been taken.

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