A Minnesota injection molder agreed April 3 to pay $160,000 in fines for illegally exporting cattle prods.
North Central Plastics Inc. in Ellendale exported its cattle prods without proper licenses 19 times between August 1996 and July 2000, according to the U.S. Export Administration, part of the Department of Commerce. The government said cattle prods require a license because they can be instruments of torture and other human rights violations.
``The shipment of electric cattle prods to most destinations is subject to export licensing requirements for foreign policy reasons, in order to promote the observance of human rights throughout the world,'' the department said in a news release.
Kathy Hult, a spokeswoman for North Central's parent company, Waters Instruments Inc. in Minneapolis, said the company made the error innocently.
``It was total naivete, is what I would call it,'' Hult said. ``It was just being unaware of the licensing and the procedures.''
The company exported the cattle prods to Argentina, Honduras, Switzerland, Taiwan, Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland and Mexico.
Waters purchased North Central in August. The government initially imposed a $186,000 fine, but waived $26,000 if the company does not commit violations in the next two years.
North Central injection molds high density polyethylene electric fencing products, chiefly for agricultural markets. Its polymer fencing wire is more visible than all-metal wire and often is used for temporary fencing, Hult said.