ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A local firm has gotten caught up in a federal probe involving a half-million dollars worth of smuggled merchandise from China.

The New York Times reports that the firm in question is Marcone, founded in St. Louis in 1932 and based in the city since, and the merchandise is the colorless gas that provides the chill for air-conditioners.

Under international treaty, the gas HCFC-22 was phased out due to evidence that it damages the ozone and contributes to global warming.

But that treaty hasn’t prevented countries like China, India, and Mexico from producing massive quantities of HCFC-22 and selling it cheaply.

According to the Justice Department, Marcone vice president Carlos Garcia generated big bucks by selling the smuggled foreign gas to repairmen.

It all started with what Garcia called Freaky Freon Fridays, weekly sales in which he sold the smuggled coolant at low prices to repairmen. The profits he generated made him a “a hero to his company,” assistant U.S. attorney Thomas A. Watts-FitzGerald told a federal courtroom in April.

It took a two-year investigation, wiretaps, and informants to bring down the smuggling ring which netted Garcia the big profits Marcone had become accustomed to.

In late June, Garcia was sentenced to 13 months in a federal prison.


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