Wednesday, July 03, 2013

U.S. v. Huizar-Velazquez (9th Cir. - July 3, 2013)

It's another federal criminal case out of San Diego.  Arturo Huizar-Velazquez was a smuggler who slipped his ill-gotten booty across the border.

Drugs?  Immigrants?

Nope.  Coat hangers.

I know.  I was surprised as you.  Who smuggles coat hangers into the United States?!

It was actually fairly brilliant, I think.  As well as totally straightforward.

Apparently China was dumping wire hangers, so the U.S. hit 'em with retaliatory tariffs of 187.25 percent.  At which point Huizar-Velazquez bought a bunch of wire hangers from China, imported them into Mexico, put 'em into boxes labeled "Made in Mexico," and shipped them to the United States.  Making millions and millions of dollars in the process.  Easy peasy.  (The actual details were slightly more complex, and involved initially shipping them into the U.S. for resale in Mexico, then shipping them there and putting 'em into the "Made in Mexico" boxes and shipping them back.  But the basic principle was the same.)

Until, of course, he got caught.

Surprisingly, there were neat little sentencing issues that came up.  Which the Ninth Circuit persuades me that the district court in fact got wrong.  So the case gets remanded for resentencing.

None of which detracts from the fact that there are lots of things I might think about smuggling across the border.  Wire hangers were way at the bottom of the list.