Pesticide Smuggler Faces Up to 20 Years, Hefty Fine: Feds

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Prosecutors said a Hemet woman was found guilty Wednesday of smuggling an unregistered pesticide into the United States from Mexico.

Veronica Perez, 40, did not disclose to border officers on July 11 of last year that she had 20 containers of zinc phosphide in her purse, authorities said in a news release sent out by the office of the United States Attorney Southern District of California on Thursday. The jury found her guilty on a federal smuggling charge and she now faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to half a million dollars.

"The pesticides involved in this case pose serious public health and environmental dangers," said Special Agent in Charge Scot Adair of the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division in California in the news release.  “The verdict in this case demonstrates that individuals who intentionally violate smuggling and environmental protection laws will be held responsible for their crimes."

According to the U.S. attorney's office, "zinc phosphide is an extremely toxic rodenticide, and the ingestion of small amounts can cause death in animals and humans…. Ingestion of seven drops to one teaspoon of zinc phosphide would likely kill a 150-pound person."

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