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One honey heist to rule them all

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  • A massive void in the U.S. market gives honey launderers plenty of room to operate.

Treating U.S. borders like a giant sieve, the ALW email trails branch from Chicago to Hamburg to Hong Kong to Beijing — despite ALW directives requesting employees to conduct all honey business via telephone and in German. ALW was raking in profits hand-over-fist; as were some American companies it dealt with. In 2006, an ALW customer rejected a batch of chop-shop honey after testing “revealed one container was contaminated with chloramphenicol, and antibiotic the U.S. bans from food.” ALW simply went to the bullpen and called on a more dependable customer: “A deal was made to sell the contaminated honey at a big discount to another customer in Texas, a processor that sold honey to food companies. According to court documents, ALW executives called Honey Holding the ‘garbage can’ for the company’s willingness to buy what others would not.”

In February of 2013, Honey Holding (along with Groeb Farms) confessed to importing mislabeled honey — a result of the fallout from the ALW investigation. The Department of Justice handed out several million dollars in fines, and a class action suit is pending.

Other companies still accepting honey from the illegal pipeline watched the legal affair play out and took careful notes. When ALW employees fall in Chicago, and U.S. companies are caught red-handed, the honey launderers and the chop-shop industry simply recalibrate. It’s another port, a different ship, new barrels, fresh POI documents, and a restart for the shell-game.

Just ask the ALW officials hiding in Germany and the chop-shop kingpins in Asia: It’s much easier to run a scam when someone else is going to take the fall.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @CBennett71

Email me: cbennett@farmpress.com

 

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