Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb announced Thursday a deputy with the Bristol County Sheriff’s office in Massachusetts was sentenced to one year in prison for smuggling profits of an over-fishing scheme to Portugal.
Forty-seven-year-old Antonio Freitas of Taunton was charged with one count of structuring the export of U.S. currency and one count of bulk cash smuggling.
Freitas smuggled $17,500 through airport security on February 5, 2016 and later depositing the funds in an account at a Portuguese bank. The owner of Carlos Seafood Inc., Carlos Rafael, controlled that bank account. Rafael had 44 permit and owned a total of 32 fishing vessels in the United States. To evade federal quotes, Rafael often lied to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about the species and quantity of fish his boats caught from 2012 to January 2016, according to court documents.
To avoid detection, Rafael submitted fraudulent records to regulators and sold a large portion of the fish to a New York City wholesale business for cash. One particular meeting, an undercover agent said Rafael received $668,000 for a shipment of fish. To avoid U.S. taxation, he smuggled the cash to Portugal.
Rafael was sentenced to 46 months in prison in September 2017.