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Public Statements

Lacey Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. FLEMING. Mr. Speaker, an American can be tried in a U.S. court and sent to an American prison for violating an obscure foreign law. Yes, you heard that right. That has already happened under a little-known provision in the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act became the law in 1900 as a good protection against poachers, but it's been expanded since. Now, if you unknowingly import a product that violates a regulation from an exporting country, you can end up in a U.S. Federal courtroom and sent to a Federal prison.

One seafood importer spent 6 years in jail for importing lobsters that violated a regulation in Honduras. A few lobster tails were too small, and they were shipped in plastic instead of cardboard. Even the Honduran Government said these rules were obsolete.

Then Gibson Guitar had to pay $350,000 to settle Federal charges that the company bought wood from Madagascar that was a sixth of an inch too thick.

It's time to end unreasonable and unconstitutional prosecutions of Americans on American soil for obscure foreign laws. The Lacey Act violates the rule of law and it needs to be changed.

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