A Las Vegas distributor and two Chinese companies were indicted Wednesday for producing and distributing tainted pet food believed to have killed about 4,000 dogs and cats.
Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co.; Suzhou Textiles, Silk, Light Industrial Products Arts and Crafts I/E Co.; and Las Vegas-based ChemNutra Inc. were charged in the indictments.
The U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City, Mo., said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has received consumer reports suggesting 1,950 cats and 2,200 dogs died after eating food contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine.
U.S. Attorney John F. Wood said authorities have not substantiated all of the reports, but prosecutors believe the number of deaths was in the thousands. The deaths last year resulted in one of the nation's largest pet food recalls.
The indictments allege that Xuzhou Anying mixed melamine, a known toxin, into wheat gluten to artificially boost its apparent nutritional value and raise the price.
Another company, Suzhou Textiles, allegedly mislabeled the gluten to avoid inspections and shipped it to Kansas City. ChemNutra allegedly distributed the substance to pet food companies knowing it had been shipped illegally.
A ChemNutra spokesman said the company's innocent, and looks forward to defending itself in federal court.
Some company officials were also named in the indictments.