Three federal agencies have combined forces to stop more
than a million pounds of tainted food at the Port of Newark since 2005.
The Departments of Homeland Security and Agriculture worked
with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents beginning in late 2005 to
inspect sea cargo containers as part of Operation Fowl Play, according to an
ICE news release.
The operation seized 50 food shipments totaling more than 1
million pounds of poultry, fowl, meat, pork, and fruits and vegetables.
Federal agents lauded the operation.
"Given the possibility of an Avian Flu outbreak, this
operation closed down an illegal importation operation that was a threat to
public safety," Susan Mitchell, director of field operations for Customs and
Border Protection in New York, said in a press release.
The shipments could have contained illegal drugs or weapons,
Kyle Hutchins, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in
Newark, NJ, said in the release.
"Shutting down illegal operations such as this is a critical
mission of ICE because it closes vulnerabilities in the importation process,"
Agents served three search warrants last week in New York
City and seized documents related to illegal importation of foodstuffs and
merchandise to businesses in Chinatown and Brooklyn.
The Port of Newark was opened in 1915 and has 3 million
square feet of warehouse space, roads and direct railways, according to the
port Web site.
- By Charlie Morasch,