Man steals crab from Arctic Foods, North Star Cold Storage
“This was not a one-time thing. This was an ongoing conspiracy involving multiple states and multiple jurisdictions and a lot of money,” said Robert Hammer, special agent in charge of overseeing Pacific Northwest investigative operations.
David Subil was arrested on charges of stealing and transporting more than $700,000 in king and snow crab, according to a criminal complaint filed Feb. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Authorities said Subil picked up several crabs at North Star Cold Storage in Stanwood, and stores and ships the products for other companies under the guise of a Safeway employee.
Subil is accused of operating fake email accounts pretending to be various Safeway employees. The criminal complaint said Subil used the email accounts to message the owner of San Francisco-based Arctic Foods to convince him to authorize two shipments of crab worth $432,000 and $296,388.
The first order contained 300 cases of 6/9 red crab and 300 cases of 4/7 red crab. In the second order there were 360 cases of crab legs and claws, 40 cases of Opilio snow crab and 240 cases of red crab legs and claws of 6/9 amount.
After receiving the second order, the owner realized Subili was overcharging and tried to call again to report the error but was not picked up, according to the criminal complaint. After contacting Safeway, the owner learned that Subil no longer worked for the company.
“Both the San Francisco distributor and the business here in Washington, Stanwood, discovered that they were essentially being defrauded,” said Nick Brown, the U.S. attorney for western Washington. “They were taking orders for the seafood. They were trying to call to verify parts of the transaction, and none of the phone numbers were working.”
Subil received two shipments of crabs on January 18 and 20 using a fake alias and a fake trucking company. Both deliveries took less than two hours. Investigators later confirmed that rental information showed that the trucks were rented by Subil.
The alleged crab thief had planned another pick-up for Jan. 25, but deputies were nearby in unmarked vehicles monitoring the situation. The staff loaded a lower value product on Subil’s order. The truck was stopped near Tacoma, and police arrested the driver on suspicion of forgery and possession of a fraudulent bill.
On February 1, investigators discovered that a Florida seafood company was selling crab that appeared to be from Arctic Foods and was below market value. The photos showed the lot numbers matched those on Subil’s first order, according to the criminal complaint.
The owner of the company told investigators that Global Supply P&P, which is registered to Subil, paid $144,750 for the king crab.
On February 2nd, an email from Subil stated that the first bill would be paid on February 17th. However, no payment was made after that date.
Subil organized the fourth shipment of Arctic Foods, and researchers installed GPS devices in the packages. They tracked down the product to a Florida company that provides construction and junk removal services. Investigators believe Subil threw away the material when he found the king crab missing.
On February 18, investigators say Subil booked a one-way plane ticket to Colombia but never boarded the plane. Subil was arrested in Miami.