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Intellectual Property Rights

Chinese honey manufacturer sentenced to 18 months for illegal import scheme

CHICAGO - The former president of a Chinese honey manufacturer was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison for conspiring to smuggle Chinese-origin honey into the U.S. - some of which was tainted with antibiotics - to avoid nearly $4 million in anti-dumping duties.  This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Yong Xiang Yan, 61, was sentenced Nov. 9 in the Northern District of Illinois to 18 months in prison and was ordered to pay $3,953,515 in restitution. After serving his sentence, Yan will be turned over to ICE and placed into deportation proceedings.

Yan pleaded guilty in October 2009 to conspiring to smuggle 15 full container loads of Chinese honey into the United States that was falsely identified as originating in the Philippines, thereby avoiding anti-dumping duties of $635,515.  Between 2005 and February 2008 Yan conspired with others - including nine individuals in the U.S., Germany and Asia, and a German trading company and its subsidiaries in the United States, Beijing and Hong Kong - to illegally import Chinese honey, including adulterated honey, into the United States. 

Yan acknowledged that he authorized an additional 21 shipments of Chinese honey through the Philippines and Thailand, which entered the United States in the state of Washington.  An additional $3.3 million in anti-dumping duties were avoided on these shipments, bringing the total figure avoided to about $3,953,515.

"Mr. Yan defrauded the U.S. government and the American people by illegally importing mislabeled honey into this country," said ICE Director John Morton. "Some of these products were tainted with antibiotics - all in an effort to make illegal profits.  ICE will continue to aggressively investigate these criminals who try to circumvent the U.S. customs laws that were designed to protect the American public and U.S. businesses."

Yan was the president of Changge City Jixiang Bee Product Co. Ltd., a honey manufacturing company located in Henan, China. He was arrested May 6, 2009 in Los Angeles on federal charges filed in Chicago.  He has remained in federal custody since his arrest.

According to court documents, some of the Chinese honey Yan shipped to the U.S. was adulterated with antibiotics, specifically Norfloxacin and Ciprofloxacin, which are banned from domestic foods.

Neither the charges nor the plea agreement indicate any instances of illness or other public health consequences attributed to consuming the honey.  Also, no specific store brands or domestic supply chains of honey that was illegally imported or adulterated were identified in any court documents.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew S. Boutros and William R. Hogan, Northern District of Illinois, prosecuted this case.