Illegal Antifreeze Imports Net Businessman 13 Months in Federal Prison
If he hadn’t been from Southern Florida, Mr. Garcia may have gotten away with it. The same could be said for the Irish national caught in the scheme or the older married couple who thought they’d stumbled onto a gold mine retirement opportunity. Today, the United States government is cracking down on illegal imports of antifreeze brought in from China and other developing nations. The end result was a 13-month sentence for the businessman who knowingly brought in more product than allowed from unapproved sources.
Increased Profits Without Any Risk?
Since industrialized nations cracked down on the sale of a certain type of antifreeze – HCFC-22 – a surprising number of legitimate businesses have been caught up in smuggling schemes stretching across the globe. The solution is still in high demand for use in older refrigeration units and is easily made by laboratories in struggling nations. Suppliers in India, China and other countries where profits are almost impossible to come by are happy to increase supply of the chemical that has been closely tied with environmental damage.
With hopes of driving down demand, industrialized governments have placed strict limits on the sale, use and production of HCFC-22. The cost of legitimate supply has been driven up by bureaucratic costs, making it two to three times more expensive in the past. Instead of seeing a growth in alternative products, however, smuggling of the antifreeze has become increasingly more popular.
No Slap on the Wrist for Garcia
Businessmen like Carlos Garcia took advantage of the illegal supply and used a number of loopholes they believed would protect their businesses. While getting caught carried a slight possibility of being prosecuted, no one considered it a real risk. Hundreds of people across the United States worked together to hide the illegal HCFC-22 and take advantage of big profits. Unfortunately for them, the small crimes they thought they were committing eventually caught up with them. Smuggling the solution into the United States broke national law and international treaties. So far, Garcia is the only member of this recent sting to be prosecuted. The case against him is so tight it landed him over a year in federal prison.
Antifreeze is an important element in cooling and refrigeration. Different types carry more or less benefits, as well as environmental risk. For HCFC-22, the risks were too great to continue allowing its widespread use. Now it carries legal risks as well. The Garcia case fortunately has proven to businesses and manufacturers that finding legitimate sources to HCFC-22 and its alternatives must be made a priority. How can you make sure your business is on the up-and-up? Use common sense when comparing price and ask about the appropriate paperwork. You may wind up paying more for your product, but the security you’ll have in buying from approved sources is worth the cost.