Magazine August 19, 2013, Issue

Making a Federal Case Out of It

(Roman Genn)
Regulation by prosecution

In 1999, federal fisheries agents received an anonymous tip by fax. The fax claimed that David McNab was importing lobsters from Honduras that were packed in clear plastic bags, not the cardboard boxes prescribed by Honduran law, and that some of the lobster tails were undersized.

Acting on the tip, the feds seized a $4 million shipment of lobster tails and charged McNab and three of his customers with felonies for violating and conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, which forbids taking wildlife in violation of local laws and regulations. They also charged McNab et al. with smuggling, because the lobster

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