The most prominent fishing vessel owner in the Port of New Bedford is being held by federal authorities.

Sixty-four year old Carlos Rafael and his bookkeeper, 60 year old Debra Messier, both of Dartmouth, were arrested Friday and charged with conspiracy and submitting false records to the federal government.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Rafael is being held for a detention hearing next Wednesday. Messier was released on $10,000 bond.

Earlier Friday, federal agents seized boxes of records from Rafael's business, Carlos Seafood, on Front Street.

Investigators says Rafael sold unreported fish to a New York business for what the feds say was "bags of cash." Rafael allegedly smuggled some of the money through Logan International Airport to Portugal.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Rafael allegedly boasted to a pair of undercover agents in January, he had made $668,000 from the sale of "off-the-books" fish over the previous six months.

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