SAN DIEGO (AP) — A customs broker orchestrated a scheme that brought at least $100 million worth of Chinese textiles, Indian cigarettes and other goods to the United States without paying more than $10 million in tariffs and other fees, according to a federal complaint unsealed Wednesday.
Gerardo Chavez, 42, is president of the San Diego Customs Brokers Association, a trade group that represents 45 brokers doing business on California's border with Mexico. The complaint says his companies "facilitated" about $500 million in trade between the United States and other countries over the last five years.
Chavez and two other defendants were taken into custody Wednesday, according to U.S. Immigration and Enforcement. Five other defendants were at-large.
Under the scheme, Chavez and two of his companies named in the complaint — Tecate Trade Logistics LLC and International Trade Consultants LLC — allegedly took Asian goods that arrived at the Long Beach port and filed documents that said they were destined for Mexico, exempting them from fees. The complaint says goods were sent to Southern California warehouses and sold in the United States, undercutting competitors.
The defendants "could sell more goods at cheaper prices and for greater profits than their law-abiding competitors, including domestic American manufacturers of these same products," the complaint read.
Investigators discovered more than 90 fraudulent shipments, according to the complaint. In one, a clothing shipment from China was unloaded at a San Diego warehouse in December 2011, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection was falsely told four months later that the merchandise ended up in Mexico.
Chavez, of Spring Valley, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, entry of goods by false statements and obstruction of justice. No one answered the phone at his office.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
If you haven't received your electric bill yet for this month, you might be in for quite a shock. San Diegans are reporting skyrocketing power bills despite their best efforts to reduce their use.
Airbnb has revealed in a new report that 45,000 teachers in the United States are Airbnb hosts. Overall, Airbnb teacher hosts earned $160 million in hosting income in 2017.
It's been more than a month since the West Fire destroyed 56 structures including dozens of homes in Alpine. Like so many California communities right now, people there are starting over.
The Public Utilities Department on Thursday announced that some customers have not received a water bill for recent billing cycles due to an input error involving the city’s new infrastructure asset management program.
Firefighters on Thursday extinguished a small brush fire on a hillside alongside eastbound state Route 52, near Mast Boulevard in Santee.
A portion of Torrey Pines State Beach was blocked off from the public Thursday after a bluff collapse.
A San Diego State University graduate received his diploma on Thursday - 83 years after graduating. 105-year-old Bill Vogt finished college in 1935 but never received a printed diploma.
BIG3's founder Ice Cube and Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman talk about the upcoming BIG3 championship.