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Two Texas Men Admit to CFC Smuggling

July 17, 1998
EPA Press Advisory

Ernesto Medina and Antonio Medina of Brownsville, Texas, and their company Medina Forwarding Corp., also of Brownsville, all pleaded guilty on July 13, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston to violating the Clean Air Act. The defendants admitted that they participated in bringing 1,200 30-pound cylinders of CFC-12 into the United States from Russia in 1995 with the understanding that it would be shipped to Mexico. Instead, the gas was trucked to Long Island, N.Y., where it had a street value of approximately $720,000. Federal law severely restricts the manufacture and importation of CFCs in the United States.

CFCs are being phased out because they deplete the earth's protective ozone layer which shields people from ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer and cataracts. When sentenced, the Medinas each face up to five years in prison and/or fines of up to $250,000. The Medina Forwarding Corp. faces fines of up to $500,000. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Customs Service and the FBI.

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