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Thread: CaribSea busted

  1. #1
    Moderator Krugar's Avatar
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    Jun 2004

    CaribSea busted

    Not sure where to place this thread, but I thought you'd all find this interesting:

    Copied here for those of you who don't want to click:

    Press Release
    November 8, 2006


    R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Eddie McKissick, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Hal Robbins, Special Agent in Charge, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, Southeast Division, and Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced that Carib Sea, Inc., a Fort Pierce-based aquarium supply company, and Richard Greenfield, 46, of Fort Pierce, pled guilty and were sentenced in federal District Court on November 7, 2006, in connection with the illegal importation of more than 42,000 pounds of protected coral rock from Haiti to the United States. Both defendants were charged in connection with a shipment that arrived in March 2006, contrary to the laws of the United States and an international treaty intended to protect threatened and endangered species of wildlife, all in violation of the federal Lacey Act, Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372 and 3373.

    United States District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke accepted the guilty pleas of the two defendants and proceeded to immediate sentencing. Carib Sea, Inc. was sentenced to a three year period of court-supervised probation and ordered to make a $25,000 community service payment to the South Florida National Park Trust to assist in funding and enhancing the existing Coral Nursery Program in Biscayne National Park.

    Richard Greenfield was also placed on three years probation, and ordered to pay a criminal fine in the amount of $25,000. Additionally, the defendants were held jointly liable for storage and transportation costs exceeding $10,000 which related to the March 2006 seizure and approximately 40,000 pounds of coral rock found and seized by the government at the company’s business location. The defendants are also obligated to publish a notice in three publications related to the aquarium trade, explaining their violation of law and the applicable requirements of CITES and U.S. regulations.

    The coral rock involved in this matter, with a market value of approximately $75,000, is being transferred to a non-profit research institution, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, to avoid its use in commerce.

    According to the Information filed in this matter and a statement of facts presented in Court, in March 2006, the defendants were involved in the importation of a cargo-container load of coral rock from Haiti. Under a convention known as “CITES,” the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, more than 150 countries have banded together to provide protection to a variety of species in danger of imminent extinction, or which may become so, if trade in their specimens is not carefully regulated. That protection extends to all coral rock, which is an invertebrate within the phylum coelenterate. To legally import such specimens into the United States, the importer must, among other requirements, obtain and present to the Fish & Wildlife Service a valid foreign export permit from the country of origin, or if the country of origin is not a CITES member, such as Haiti, a corresponding document described in U.S. regulations. Neither of the defendants, or their Haitian supplier, possessed or presented the appropriate documentation for the coral in this case at the time of importation

    Coral reef destruction has been the subject of intense debate at the meetings of the parties to CITES. Loss of reef habitat, which is one of the most productive and diverse ecosystems, is a world-wide concern. As nurseries for marine species of commercial value, as well as a source of income from recreational fishing and eco-tourists, and a protective barrier for coastlines, a significant effort is underway to preserve the existing reef structures and reverse their decline.

    Mr. Acosta commended the coordinated investigative efforts of the Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and Immigration & Customs Enforcement, which brought the matter to a successful conclusion. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.

    A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

    Technical comments about this website can be e-mailed to the Webmaster. PLEASE NOTE: The United States Attorney's Office does not respond to non-technical inquiries made to this website. If you wish to make a request for information, you may contact our office at 305-961-9001, or you may send a written inquiry to the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida, 99 NE 4th Street, Miami, Fl. 33132.
    There is nothing so permanent as a temporary measure.

  2. #2
    Senior Member colesy's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    crazy.. shouldn't break the law I guess.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nelson's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    Excellent work by the US authorities.

  4. #4
    Member nano-king's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    CaribSea,arent those the guys who make live sand?

  5. #5
    Senior Member groupie02's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Yup! these guys
    65g - 80lbs LR - 4x36" 39W T5 HOs (2x10000K,2xActinics) - CSS125 - 25g sump - Mag 7 return - Blueline SD-1100 Closed Loop with OM Squirt * 2x Amphiprion ocellaris - 1x Paracanthurus hepatus - 1x Zebrasoma flavescens
    29g - with stuff ;-)
    Coming Soon - 120g with more stuff

  6. #6
    Moderator ShipWreck's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Apparently, they were busted for base rock

  7. #7
    Senior Member SnelgroveReefer's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Before any of use make judgements we need to get all the facts. Please read the entire article on Marine Depot that Shipwreck posted. It seems as if we should be upset at US F&W not Carib Sea!
    90g Display, 30gal sump w/ refugium, MAS CR418 calcium reactor w/ Mag5 and Blueline CO2, Vertex IN-180 protein skimmer w/ Mag5, Mag9.5 return, 150 Phosban Reactor w/ MJ 1200, 1 Ebo 200w heater, 90lbs. LR, 80lbs. Carib-Sea aragonite, Cooltouch MH lights -2 x 400watt (20K & 14K) PFO hoods & Coralife 65w PC in custom hood with fan, Coralife 3-3/4watt mini moonlights, 8 jet Closed Loop System w/Reef-flo Dart, Aqua-Safe RO/DI, JBJ Auto Top Off unit w/Mag 5 return, 12g Nano cube, 10g quarentine.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nelson's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    If there was any sense on the part of the individual or his attorney that he or the corporation were falsely accused, or the accusations were based upon weak evidence, then you can be sure that he and/or the entity would not have entered guilty pleas.

  9. #9
    Senior Member badmedicine's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    "United States District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke accepted the guilty pleas of the two defendants and proceeded to immediate sentencing. Carib Sea, Inc. was sentenced to a three year period of court-supervised probation and ordered to make a $25,000 community service payment to the South Florida National Park Trust to assist in funding and enhancing the existing Coral Nursery Program in Biscayne National Park......"

    If the crime was done in Haiti why aren't the defendants having to recompense the Haitian people/government?

    Or more to the point why is Biscayne National Park somehow a victim in this crime? I am thinking that the U.S Fish and Wildlife are taking advantage of a criminal act. SHAME< SHAME!!!

    I think that justice would be better served if the defendants would be required to serve time in Haiti (were the crime originated).

    My 2 cents
    I have a lot of Patients

  10. #10
    Member NanoReefaholic's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Calfo
    To all - the the above story/issue re: Carib Sea did not make sense to me at face value - the company is so big, so industry friendly... and so smart, etc

    So I talked to the company directly for the skinny on it... turns out the matter is as suspected (administrative oversight... non-nefarious, and rather minor IMO):

    The gist of it from ems:


    The product was our reef bones. It is dead live rock, and a common construction material in Haiti and many other tropical islands. It was a nice looking product when we released it several years back... as I am sure you are aware, all of the laws, and permits for these various resources can be very confusing. We simply did not have the proper permit in place for one container of product of the several we had brought in over the last few years. We now have the correct permit. It’s funny a simple $100 permit cost us upwards of a quarter of a million dollars in fines, legal fees, storage fees, and the product they kept.

    Fortunately we learned a lot from this experience. We will continue on our path, helping and donating time, money, and product to research groups and conservation efforts such as our program with the Blue Iguana Recovery Program ( to help save the Blue Iguana.

    People tend to overlook anything good, and focus on the size of the fine and company name.
    People don't over react....

    It was a clerical oversight that forced Caribsea to take it from the US government. Caribsea made a mistake in not ensuring that all permits were in place and hence the guilty plea. They weren't trying to smuggle it in but some one thought they should take it by paying $250,000 for a $100 mishap. The real victim is Caribsea.

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