NEW BEDFORD – The fishing industry has always been a significant part of New England's economy. One big fish player will never be granted a commercial fishing license again, now that a settlement has finally been reached in the long, twisted story of the "Codfather" from New Bedford, Massachusetts.
The cod market in New England used to be dominated by Carlos Rafael, dubbed "the Codfather." Rafael controlled 20 percent of all cod fishing in the region, per Antonia Noori Farzan of The Washington Post. As for the cod market in New Bedford, Rafael was the sole player and he controlled the ins and outs of cods in that port city.
In 2017, after a slew of charges were levied against Rafael, he pleaded guilty to all the charges, including false labeling. The scheme from the "Codfather" centered around Rafael's claims that he was catching codfish, haddock, and pollock, but was, in actuality catching and selling fish that were under a stricter watch from federal regulations. Essentially, the "Codfather" was trafficking in rare fish and passing them off as haddock, among other such more common types of fish. Federal authorities uncovered his scheme and also learned, through the investigation, that Rafael was also handling the proceeds illicitly when he smuggled them overseas to offshore accounts in Portugal.
A settlement was finally reached yesterday, two years after Rafael's mega-fishing operation came to an end. Per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, all of assets from the "Codfather" and his fishing captains will be divested. He is also permanently banned from the commercial fishing industry. The settlement, which Rafael and his representation considered a "smart move," also includes a three million dollar penalty for the "Codfather." He has been permanently stripped of his permit to sell seafood.
Rafael is currently serving his second year of a four-year sentence in prison.