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SoCal man charged with smuggling pesticides into US

SAN DIEGO — A Riverside County man who allegedly smuggled unregulated Mexican pesticides across the border was arraigned Thursday in San Diego on a federal smuggling charge.

Luis Alberto Vargas, 28, of Perris, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted of bringing 2.25 liters of pesticides containing chloropyrifos and abamectin into the U.S.

Prosecutors say those chemicals are restricted in the United States due to their lethality if ingested, as well as their harmfulness if absorbed through the skin or inhaled. The chemicals are also toxic to bees and other wildlife, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“These types of chemicals, which are extremely dangerous to humans if ingested or inhaled, must be kept out of the hands of untrained individuals,” U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said. “Misapplication of these chemicals could cause untold harms to our citizens and our environment.”

Vargas did not have the proper certification to purchase or use the chemicals, according to prosecutors, who said the chemical containers were only labeled in Spanish and had no U.S. Environment Protection Agency registration numbers.

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