Guilty Plea in Smuggling Case: Pomona Man and Wholesale Company Imported Unsafe Chinese Roasted Eel

A Pomona man and his food wholesale company plead guilty to smuggling and distributing Chinese frozen roasted eel deemed unsafe for human consumption.

In a significant development, a Pomona man and his food wholesale company have pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of attempting to smuggle Chinese frozen roasted eel into the United States for human consumption. Kevin Sheng Hsiang Fang, 41, and his Industry-based food wholesale business, Yong Chang Trading Co., admitted to smuggling and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Fang, known for being a high-volume importer of Chinese frozen roasted eel, commonly referred to as unagi, became entangled in a criminal case following a shipment of his imported eel that underwent sample testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The test results revealed that the eel was unsafe for human consumption, leading the FDA to refuse its entry into the country.

Court documents filed in Los Angeles federal court state that Fang knowingly re-imported the previously refused Chinese frozen roasted eel, employing new entry information and mixing it with other eel in an attempt to avoid detection. During his guilty plea, Fang admitted that the Chinese frozen roasted eel he attempted to import and distribute was adulterated with unsafe new animal drugs, including Gentian Violet, Leucogentian Violet, and Malachite Green. The use of these antibiotics or chemicals during various stages of aquaculture can result in the presence of residues in the edible portion of the seafood, posing health risks.

The FDA has warned that the presence of antibiotic residues can contribute to an increase in antimicrobial resistance among human pathogens. Additionally, prolonged exposure to substances like Malachite Green and Gentian Violet has been linked to carcinogenic effects.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada emphasized the significance of federal laws prohibiting the smuggling of certain food products, which are designed to safeguard consumers’ health. Estrada expressed commitment to collaborating with law enforcement partners to protect the American people from such public health dangers and ensure the safety of the food supply.

Fang is now facing a potential sentence of up to 21 years behind bars, with his scheduled sentencing set for August 14, as stated by federal prosecutors. This case serves as a reminder of the importance of stringent measures and collaboration in safeguarding the integrity of the food industry and protecting consumers from potential health hazards.