K. Mennem 6:15 p.m., May 21
Bad Customs customs
Customs broker pleads guilty to avoiding payments
Gerardo Chavez of International Trade Consultants, president of the San Diego Customs Brokers Association, pleaded guilty today (November 15) in federal court to importing goods into the United States without paying import taxes. According to court documents, Chavez would import large amounts of Chinese-made apparel, Indian-made cigarettes, and other goods, and claim they were not intended for commerce in the United States. Chavez's employees would prepare paperwork and database entries claiming the goods would be transshipped to other countries such as Mexico. Transshipment arrangements are not subject to Customs duties. Chavez was responsible for importing more than $100 million of goods for which duties were not collected. This cost taxing authorities $18 million, says the United States Attorney's office. Chavez and an associate, Carlos Medina, who also pleaded guilty today, will be sentenced January 14.