Would-Bee Smugglers Get Schumer Pun Run

Posted February 20, 2013 at 5:23pm

“This successful sting operation is sure to be a buzzkill for would-be honey smugglers,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who may have exceeded all allowable standards by squeezing four puns into a three-sentence statement about an illegal dumping case against two U.S. honey processors.

The New York Democrat was just getting revved up. “For too long, foreign smuggling of this product has created a sticky situation for domestic honey producers. We need a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to honey laundering.”

Using up so many sticky puns in one fell swoop could cause trouble for Schumer, who might need more of them if an effort he backs gains traction again this year: He wants to crack down on the distribution and sale of counterfeit maple syrup.

To be sure, Schumer’s office’s attempt at wit will get attention. But the size and scope of the illegal dumping case was no laughing matter for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. The agencies have investigated unlawful dumping of Chinese honey on the U.S. market since 2008.

“These businesses intentionally deprived the U.S. government of millions of dollars in unpaid duties,” ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale said Wednesday. “Schemes like this result in legitimate importers and the domestic honey-producing industry enduring years of unprofitable operations, with some even being put out of business.”

The government says the avoidance of anti-dumping duties cost the Treasury about $180 million a year.

Emily Ethridge contributed to this report.