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October 16, 2014

5 Defendants plead guilty to smuggling aluminum extrusions

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Five defendants plead guilty Monday in Federal District court, to charges of conspiracy to smuggle aluminum extrusions into the United States, with the intent to avoid paying antidumping and countervailing duties.

Samuel García-Adarme, Edrick García-Vázquez, Armando García-Vázquez, Carlos Minguela and PRP Trading Corporation, plead guilty before US District Court Judge Francisco Besosa, after reaching a plea agreement with Assistant US Attorney Scott Anderson. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 17, 2014.

The defendants were indicted by a grand jury after an investigation conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Import Specialist Branch. According to the indictment, the defendants knowingly and willfully combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed with each other to smuggle and clandestinely introduce, or attempt to smuggle or clandestinely introduce, merchandise imported from China, to wit: aluminum, by passing false and fraudulent invoices and documents through the San Juan CBP customhouse with the intent to defraud the United States in lawful antidumping and countervailing (ADD/CVD) duties accruing upon said merchandise.

The object of the conspiracy was that defendants Samuel García-Adarme, Edrick García-Vázquez, Armando García-Vázquez and Carlos Minguela-Ortiz, owners and/or principals of Sultana Screens & Aluminum Sales, PRP Trading, and Aluwest Industries, with the assistance of William Tang Piu Wong, would purchase aluminum from China, transship the aluminum to Malaysia, repackage the aluminum and create false invoices to make it appear as though the aluminum originated in Malaysia, and then import the aluminum into Puerto Rico in order to avoid payment of the antidumping and countervailing duties (ADD/CVD).

“US Customs and Border Protection is responsible for enforcing the antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) law and collecting the ADD/CVD duties assessed against applicable imports. Importers who willfully circumvent the provisions of the ADD/CVD law through illegal transshipment, undervaluation or misclassification of merchandise in order to avoid paying these duties will be identified and investigated,” said Marcelino Borges, Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the USVI. “Our officers and trade experts remain vigilant to detect these violators and enforce all trade related laws.”

“The ICE-HSI Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties (ADD/CVD) Program is one way that HSI protects U.S. businesses from fraudulent trade practices. ADD/CVD orders are issued by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and collected and distributed by CBP. Antidumping duties are assessed when importers sell merchandise at less than fair market value, which causes material injury to a domestic industry producing a comparable product. The United States can also impose countervailing duties to offset foreign government subsidy payments on exports of foreign businesses. Duties are imposed to offset the dumping or subsidies provided by the foreign country in order to maintain the competitiveness of United States industry and to foster a level business playing field,” said Ángel Meléndez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “HSI is responsible for investigating importers who evade the payment of ADD/CVD on imported merchandise. ADD/CVD cases are long-term, transnational investigations that require significant coordination between domestic and international offices and with our foreign law enforcement counterparts

ADD and CVD are additional duties imposed on goods entering into U.S. commerce for consumption as a prerogative of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to avoid imported merchandise being sold below fair market value.

Since November 2010, the Department of Commerce imposed antidumping and countervailing duties on Chinese-origin aluminum, which ranged from 30 – 33% of the declared value of the imported aluminum, and 374.15% of the declared value of the imported aluminum, respectively.

For CBP AD/CVD Priority Trade Issue with the goal of detecting and deterring the circumvention of the AD/CVD law, to liquidate final duties timely and accurately, while at the same time facilitating legitimate trade.

Source: US Customs & Border Protection