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Importer Pleads in Swordfish Case

June 9, 1999

MIAMI (AP) _ A fish importer has pleaded guilty to fraud for passing off nearly $6 million worth of swordfish as whitefish to get around screenings for a poisonous chemical.

Miami-based Kenbourne International and its freight forwarder, Fresh Cargo Handling Co., were charged with two felonies for telling its supplier to mislabel all its swordfish shipments in 1994.

The two pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court. Whitefish such as halibut, carp, flounder and sea bass don’t undergo the rigid screening for methyl-mercury that the Food and Drug Administration requires of swordfish.

Testing fish samples takes time, stalling shipments and forcing importers to freeze their fish. The fish in question was sold without having been tested.

Prosecutors said they will recommend to a judge that the two companies serve a four-year probation and pay a $650,000 fine.