Agents from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York City Business Integrity Commission, and Rhode Island Environmental Police officers participated in the sting, which resulted in the seizure of more than 200 illegal fish products, and misdemeanor chargers for one fish wholesaler.
The sweep involved 13 DEC environmental conservation officers, in addition to agents from other local agencies, as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service, a federal agency.
“This was an excellent example of effective coordination between Federal, State, and City law enforcement personnel,” DEC regional director Suzanne Mattei said. “The interstate cooperation between New York and Rhode Island is especially beneficial for the protection of our shared marine services.”
At approximately 11:30 p.m. on July 16, two plainclothes ECOs entered the Fulton Fish Market to conduct a surveillance of the wholesale distributors of fresh seafood. These officers noted multiple violations and contacted uniformed personnel with specifics on the locations and nature of illegal activity observed.
At approximately 1:30 a.m., the multi-agency uniformed task force entered the premises and conducted a sweep.
The officers inspected fish, shellfish, and crustaceans, while also reviewing permits manifests and other required documentation. As a result of the inspection, 11 summonses were issued to nine separate violators.
Additionally, JMS Seafood Corporation is being charged with a misdemeanor for unlawful sale of oversized striped bass.
Though the size and scope of the investigation was not typical, DEC officers routinely conduct random inspections of the new Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point, often in conjunction with outside agencies like the Business Integrity Commission.
“One of the primary missions of BIC is to eliminate all forms of corruption and criminality from the public wholesale markets of New York City,” said BIC commissioner Michael Mansfield. “We commend the DEC police and other law enforcement agencies.”
The sanctions against the fish wholesalers are not just fines, but may affect their ability to conduct business in what is the largest consortium of fish retailers in the country.
“In addition to these criminal charges, the companies and individuals cited are subject to administrative sanctions by the Commission that may affect their ability to conduct business at the New Fulton Fish Market in Hunts Point,” Mansfield explained.
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