Aluminum and copper shipments allegedly involved in a
"carousel" cross-border smuggling scheme and seized by U.S.
officials have been claimed by a Texas warehouse company,
according to court documents.
Trans Depot Inc. said it has held the seized metal since
November 2012 at a storage rate of $7,000 per month that has
been "wholly unpaid to this date," Trans Depot manager Adriana
Estrada said in a claim filed in U.S. District Court in Texas.
Trans Depot has a legal interest in the seized metal as a
common-law lien to pay for the storage fees, Estrada said.
The material was
seized after an investigation into metal shipped between
Mexicos Recuperaciones Industriales Internacionales SA de
CV (RIISA) and three U.S.-registered companies, according a
complaint filed in federal court in June (
amm.com, July 1).
investigators have accused RIISA and the other three companies
of importing 1,448 shipments of aluminum, baled copper and
copper filings in drums by using overvalued sales invoices and
false North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) certificates
of origin stating that the metal was made in Mexico. The
aluminum and copper brought into the United States by RIISA and
sold to the U.S. companies was then resold to RIISA at "below
market prices," according to federal investigators. When the
metal was exported to Mexico, allegedly falsified Nafta
certificates indicated it was produced in the United States and
"RIISA had created a
scheme in cooperation with (the three U.S. companies) to import
and export the same metals from Mexico to help correct a trade
imbalance that RIISA had with Mexican Customs maquiladora
program," documents filed with the court.