General News

USDA Cites Arizona Company Tomato Specialties LLC, d/b/a The Avocado Company International for PACA Violations

USDA/AMS Press Release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Tomato Specialties LLC, doing business as The Avocado Company International (Tomato Specialties), Nogales, Ariz., for making false and misleading statements for a fraudulent purpose and failing to account truly and correctly.

The company made false and misleading statements for a fraudulent purpose and failed to account truly and correctly to five sellers in connection with 41 lots of tomatoes that it purchased in interstate and foreign commerce from May 2014 to April 2015. This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). As a result of these actions, Tomato Specialties’ PACA license was revoked and the company cannot operate in the produce industry until Nov. 27, 2019, at which time it may reapply for a PACA license.

The company’s principals, Isaac Castro and Yvette Castro, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until Nov. 27, 2018, and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.

USDA is required to publish the finding that a business has committed willful, repeated and flagrant violations of PACA as well as impose restrictions against those principals determined to be responsibly connected to the business during the violation period. Those individuals, including sole proprietors, partners, members, managers, officers, directors or major stockholders may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee without USDA-approval.

The PACA Division, which is part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses that are operating subject to PACA, including buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry.

In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,400 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. Our experts also assisted more than 8,500 callers with issues valued at approximately $151 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.

For further information, contact Travis Hubbs, Acting Chief, Investigative Enforcement Branch, at (202) 720-6873, or by email at PACAInvestigations@ams.usda.gov.

Contact Info: Nadine Wilkins, nadine.wilkins@ams.usda.gov, 202-720-8998

Release No.: 140-17

For more PACA violations reported by Blue Book Services: #PACAViolations