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Rat Poison In Chinatown 61 Times Stronger Than Pesticide Allowed By Law; Authorities Arrest 10

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Ten Chinatown shop owners were arrested on misdemeanor charges last week for selling illegal, highly toxic rat and cockroach pesticides, some of which were 61 times stronger than the government allows.

After a five month undercover investigation, State and federal authorities executed search warrants Wednesday at a total of 14 locations and seized more than 6,000 packages of illegal pesticides.

Two men arrested face jail time, while the others face fines of up to $5,000.

Law enforcement officials became aware of the substances after a woman mistook some of the poison for her medicine and lost two-thirds of her blood volume.

From The New York Times:

The vials, they said, first came to the attention of the authorities because a woman who had bought one in the East Broadway Mall in Chinatown last year later mistook the pesticide for medicine, consumed it and became seriously ill, losing two-thirds of her blood volume, according to the court papers. Brodifacoum is an anticoagulant that kills rodents by causing them to bleed to death internally. Another chemical in one of the pesticides, sodium fluoroacetate, is a metabolic poison used to kill coyotes.

One of the pesticides that contains brodifacoum comes in vial of blue-green liquid, packaged in a yellow and blue box covered with Chinese characters and, in English, the words "The cat be unemployed."

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. warned in a statement, "Some of these illegal products look and smell like cookie crumbs, making them dangerously tempting to children. Some of the other products are so toxic that one small vial can kill an adult male. It is my hope that our collective criminal and civil law enforcement actions will prevent future injury or death."

There's no comment, however, on what authorities will do with the confiscated super strong pesticides. Maybe they could be used to solve Brooklyn's giant rat problem?

(There was also no comment on how "Cat Be Unemployed" pesticides may have put even more adorable bodega cats out of work.)

The arrests further bring into focus the trade of illegal products in Chinatown-- from the fake designer merchandise on Canal Street to the illegal rice wine on Allen Street.