US law enforcement officials charged more than a dozen people and a Texas company in connection with a decade-long scheme to evade import tariffs on Chinese-made tires, officials announced Tuesday.
The Justice Department said the joint operation found that Houston-based Winland International/Super Tire and executives “conspired to avoid anti-dumping duties associated with off-the-road (OTR) and light vehicle and truck (LVT) tires from China.”
They are accused of using paperwork from Chinese manufacturers that were not subject to duties, and also falsified invoices to understate the value of the imports in order to pay a lower duty, the department said in a statement.
The value of these tires was over $21 million, which meant the US was unable to collect more than $6.5 million in import duties.
Authorities arrested Zheng “Miranda” Zhou and Kun “Bruce” Liu, listed as president and vice president of operations of the tire company.
“For more than a decade, Zhou and her co-conspirators are alleged to have sought to gain an unfair competitive advantage at the expense of US companies,” said Mark B. Dawson of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in Houston.
Authorities filed charges against six other individuals, all considered fugitives, most of whom reside in China, according to the statement.
Another six face civil charges.
President Donald Trump made aggressive tariffs on Chinese goods a central feature of his administration, but US trade authorities have long worked to counteract dumping of product into the US market at below-market prices, which harm US producers.
“China and its industries want to rob, replicate and replace American made good and technology,” said US Attorney Ryan K. Patrick for the Southern District of Texas.
“Illegally importing and dumping these goods is one way to systemically weaken American competitors,” he said in the statement.
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