In November 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement breathlessly announced that it had broken a honey dumping scheme and had indicted three Chinese nationals for trying to avoid dumping duties on Chinese honey by importing mislabeled Chinese honey as rice fructose. In its press release, ICE patted itself on the back for its good work in protecting domestic honey producers and expressed outrage that these miscreant importers had deprived the United States of more than $1,150,000 in anti-dumping duties.

“HSI agents and CBP officers working together at our nation’s ports of entry provide an important safeguard against those seeking to break the law for their own enrichment,” said Susan McCormick, ICE HSI special agent in charge in Tampa. “This type of criminal behavior poses serious dumping risks to domestic U.S. honey producers who are in danger of being run out of the market because of this fraud.”

And then last month, the Assistant U.S. Attorney filed a motion with the court requesting leave to dismiss its case against the defendants, cryptically stating that “newly discovered evidence makes it unlikely that the government will be able to prove” its case, a motion that the judge promptly granted. And today we learned what that newly discovered evidence was and why ICE was hiding in the corner hoping that no one would notice.

According to a press release issued today by the attorney for one of the defendants, the government had sent a sample for testing to an independent laboratory in Germany after the court had ruled that the test results from the Customs lab in Savannah allegedly proving that the imports were honey were unreliable and inadmissible. Those independent test results proved what the defendants had been claiming all along: they were importing rice fructose, not honey.

Oddly, there has been no press release from ICE on this development in the case.