Burien seafood broker sentenced to prison for smuggling 'possibly tainted' geoduck clams to China

A Burien seafood broker was sentenced to 90 days in prison for smuggling possibly contaminated geoduck clams from SeaTac to China.

According to U.S. Attorney Nick Brown’s office, 52-year-old Jeffrey Olsen was sentenced Tuesday to 90 days in prison and three years of supervised release. Olsen’s company, Absolute Seafoods, was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine.

Around Feb. 20, 2019, Olsen bought 2,500 pounds of Pacific geoduck from Alaskan divers and picked it up at Sea-Tac Airport. Olsen was going to have it trucked up to Vancouver B.C. then shipped to Hong Kong.

Before it was exported, one of the divers alerted Alaska state officials they had mistakenly harvested geoduck from an area not tested for toxins. This could lead the geoduck to cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.

An Alaska wildlife trooper told Olsen he needed to destroy the shipment, as the clams were possibly contaminated. Olsen said he would, but instead illegally shipped the geoduck to Hong Kong for consumption.

"Mr. Olsen chose to gamble with the lives of customers across the globe – putting them at risk of shellfish poisoning," said U.S. Attorney Brown. "We’ll likely never know if any of the Chinese customers became ill from these clams, but a prison sentence is justified by the danger of his conduct and his repeated lies to authorities, claiming he had destroyed the potentially harmful geoduck."

Olsen also shipped 10 cases of the geoduck to a buyer in Oakland, California, and falsified paperwork marking the contents of the crate as "fresh Yelloweye."

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Olsen told Alaskan officials he destroyed the geoduck shipment, and gave them a bill from the King County garbage transfer station as proof. But, investigators found surveillance video of the time of the receipt showing he only threw away a small amount of household waste.

They also found surveillance video show Olsen personally delivering the geoduck crates for shipment to Oakland.