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US R22 smuggler fined $250,000

USA: A man who smuggled 2,300 cylinders of ozone-depleting HCFC refrigerant R22 into the US has been fined $250,000.

Faiz Abdallahi (56) pleaded guilty in October 2021 to the improper importation of a class II substance, a felony under the USA’s Federal Clean Air Act. He was also sentenced to three years’ probation.

His co-conspirator, Severo Zamora (53) pleaded guilty in January 2022 to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to six months’ probation.

Abdallahi and Zamora were charged in February 2021 with illegally importing approximately 2,300 cylinders of R22 in May 2017. The two were said to have submitted falsified and fraudulent documents to the customs and border patrol indicating that the cylinders contained R32. 

According to plea papers, Abdallahi admitted smuggling the R22 into the US without an authorised permit. The US EPA has, since 2020, banned the production and importation of R22.

Abdallahi admitted he arranged for Chinese R22 to be delivered to the port of Long Beach California and then transported via rail to the Dallas/Fort Worth area disguised as R32 to avoid seizure by the US Customs and Border Protection. Zamora, then repackaged and sold the R22 to HVAC companies in the US.

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