Everyone expects the price of HCFC refrigerants to be going up in the near future. Why else would industrious entrepreneurs in Miami attempt to hoard a little bit extra for some of their closest friends?

Evidently, the EPA was a little miffed at the amount of R-22 that a Florida corporation was importing through Miami. They deemed that a total of 1,418,654 kilograms (3,121,039 pounds) in 11 different shipments during a two-year period might have been for more than personal consumption - kind of like that fine line for medicinal marijuana use.

Kroy Corp., the Cheech and Chong of the refrigerant importation business, plead guilty on Nov. 20, 2009 to charges related to illegally smuggling restricted ozone-depleting substances into the United States, contrary to the Clean Air Act, Title 42, United States Code, Sections 7413(c)(1) and 7671d, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 545.

Woe to he who messes with the code.

And you thought the EPA couldn’t enforce the law.

So, what will happen to Kroy and its president, James Garrido? Actually, the three-count charge could carry $500,000 per count for the company, and a five-year probation per count. Garrido faces a possible 20 years and $250,000 on each count, and three-years supervised release per count. In addition, the defendants could be ordered to forfeit the illegal proceeds.

The guilty pleas may be part of a bargaining arrangement that surfaces later, but at first glance, it looks like the EPA is issuing a statement that it’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature.