Unapproved Juul pods seized by CBP.

Image of seized Juul pods, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protections media release, officers in Indianapolis over 10,000 Juul Pods shipped from Ontario, Canada to New York and New Jersey. The shipments were seized because they were misbranded consumer goods imported by an unauthorized agent.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) governs the importation of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. However, the basis of this seizure was likely under 19 USC 1499(a)(3)(a) unspecified articles and 19 USC 1595(c)(1) merchandise introduced contrary to law because the packages were labeled as an “electrical apparatus”.

If you have had your goods seized and you received a seizure notice alleging violations of 19 USC 1499 and 19 USC 1595, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Counterfeit 3M masks seized by CBP.

Image of seized masks, source: cbp.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, Chicago-based CBP officers in early March seized 136 boxes of suspected counterfeit 3M branded N95 type masks bearing the 3M registered trademarks. This most recent seizure is just one of tens of shipments Customs has seized since the start of the pandemic over one year ago.

CBP questioned the authenticity of the masks due to a chemical smell and grammatical errors on the packaging. In instances of suspected counterfeit violations, CBP specialists check with the trademark holder. CBP seized over 65,000 masks contained within the 136 boxes, if authentic the masks would be valued at over $400,000.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Unapproved Viagra RX seized.

Image of seized Viagra pills, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release – CBP officers in Louisville, Kentucky seized over 618 bottles of Viagra containing about 18,540 pills. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized the pills for being misbranded – a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).

Since the pills were being imported, they were likely purchased online and may have been produced abroad and seized by the FDA on the basis the pills were from a non-regulated foreign company and may contain da ngerous compounds, with different ingredients and poor quality control.

I-f you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$47,000 in currency seized by Customs.

Image of seized currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Dulles International Airport asked a female traveler heading to the Netherlands how much currency she was carrying. The Netherlands-bound traveler reported she was carrying $10,000 and also produced a completed FINCEN-105 form.

CBP officers asked her if she had additional and she responded she did not. However, upon a subsequent inspection, officers found a total of more than $47,000. Officers returned her $1,740 for humanitarian purposes and she continued on her trip.

Pro Tips for travelers:

  1. If Customs ask if you are carrying over $10,000 in currency, it is because they already know you are carrying more than $10,000 in currency.
  2. Be honest with Customs, you can carry more than $10,000, you just have to report it.
  3. Don’t sign the FINCEN 105 form before you count the amount of currency you have. Count first, then sign.
  4. If you get your currency seized, you have about 30 days, if you will be overseas – be sure someone will be able to access your physical mail to receive the “Notice of Seizure”

If you have had your hard-earned currency seized, contact customs seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text for immediate help: 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Follow the Director of CBP’s Baltimore Field Office on Twitter at @DFOBaltimore and on Instagram at @dfobaltimore for breaking news, current events, human interest stories and photos.

Who’s at fault – the importer or the manufacturer who used “Samsung” batteries in the toys?

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Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on Pexels.com

I receive at least one call a week from importers who have had their goods seized by Customs for trademark violations, and one very common seizure is for “Samsung” batteries (or any other brand name) contained within toys such as hoverboards or RC vehicles.

As you are aware, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the hall monitor of the multiple government agencies and CBP is tasked with the enforcement of all rules and regulations established by the various agencies – for example, CBP enforces trademarks, enforces FDA import alerts, enforces US Fish and Wildlife restrictions on shark fins and all of the tens of thousands of rules from every agency.

In regards to trademarks, CBP must enforce trademarks if the intellectual property holder registered the trademark with Customs. Unfortunately for importers, Samsung has registered many trademarks and anything found to contain the “Samsung” trademark is easy picking for Customs to detain.

Typically, CBP has the ability to detain goods for 5 days – and longer if the detention is because the goods are suspected of violating intellectual property rights.

Once CBP detains a shipment – they notify the importer of record (IOR) or customs broker the shipment has been detained and will be released pending proof the IOR has authorization from the trademark holder to import the trademarked goods.

Unfortunately, 10 out of 10 times the trademark holder will respond to Customs the IOR does not have authority to import the trademarked good. Once that happens, CBP will officially seize the goods and issue a Notice of Seizure to the IOR by certified mail, return receipt requested.

The importer of record then has 30 days to respond to the seizure. According to the Election of Proceedings form on the last page of the seizure notice, there are 4 options – (1) file a petition, (2) forfeit the goods, (3) refer to court action or offer in compromise.

Going back to the original question – who is at fault for the seizure, the manufacturer that used “Samsung” batteries or the importer of record? And as you can guess from the above – CBP will ultimately find the Importer of Record responsible for trademark violations. While this answer seems unfair, it makes sense as CBP has no authority outside of the United States and no mechanism to go after the manufacturer. The only party CBP can find liable is the importer of record.

If you have had your good seized for any reason – contact seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

550 pounds of counterfeit Apple and Samsung products seized.

Seized Apple products, source: CBP.gov

According to a mid-December U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Cincinnati seized multiple boxes of counterfeit goods totaling 550 pounds. The seized shipment from Hong Kong arrived in multiple shipments and included electronic accessories such as cables, earbuds, chargers with counterfeit logos from brands such as Apple and Samsung. CBP estimated the MSRP (if authentic) of the goods was $49,666.00 – a very specific amount typically used when there is a quantity of counterfeit goods seized.

This is the first time in recent memory CBP has described a shipment of counterfeit goods by weight. My guess is the number of earbuds, cables, chargers and adapters (lighting to headphone jack?) were packaged in small boxes or clamshell packaging. Separating each earbud case, each box of cable and each charger would likely have taken too much time to separate and count.

The media release includes the typical CBP paragraph warning counterfeit goods and the sale of contribute to criminal activity, forced labor, human trafficking and cause a risk to consumers due to the products not meeting quality standards.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com to discuss your options.

COVID and Counterfeits.

As the year ends, the 2020 COVID lockdowns has resulted in increased seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of face masks, un approved testing kits, unlabeled medicine, non-FDA approved treatments, etc.

COVID-19 Test Kit
Image of non-FDA approved COVID-19 test kits, source CBP.gov

In the past month, CBP has seized:

  1. 6,080 counterfeit 3M masks in Cincinnati labeled as “3M Disposable Respirators Model 8210”. The shipment from Hong Kong was scrutinized by CBP because the country of origin marking on the outside of the box was labeled as “Made in the USA”. CBP officers determined the 3M masks were counterfeit and seized the goods before they were to be sent to Kingston, Jamaica.
  2. CBP officers in San Diego seized a shipment containing 251 non-FDA approved COVID-19 test kits from Mexico. The shipment caught the attention of CBP because the kits were manifested as plastic cards. Over 251 test kits divided among two packages were seized and likely to be destroyed.
  3. In another shipment, CBP officers in El Paso seized more than 100,000 counterfeit 3M N95 surgical masks for use by hospital workers. If authentic, the N95 surgical masks carried an MSRP of $600,480.

If you have had your COVID-related goods seized by Customs, contact customs seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

ICE HSI special agents determined the masks were counterfeit after working with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and 3M Company.

“The seizure of these counterfeit surgical masks not only ensures the health and safety of our frontline health care workers by preventing them from receiving inferior personal protective equipment, it also protects the integrity of the American economy.  We will continue to aggressively investigate, arrest and prosecute criminal counterfeiters who show a total disregard for human life and take advantage of a relentless world pandemic for economic gain.” said Erik P. Breitzke, acting special agent in charge of ICE HSI El Paso.

“HSI and CBP will continue to collaborate to prevent unauthorized and counterfeit products from getting to U.S. consumers to protect the health and safety of the American public and the American economy,” said Ysleta Port Director Arnoldo Gomez. “This large seizure of counterfeit surgical masks, destined for frontline medical workers, demonstrates the great collaborative effort between CBP and HSI. Counterfeit surgical masks pose a great risk to our medical community, and any individual who may use them.” 

This shipment is in violation of Importation, Removal and Contrary to Law (19 U.S.C. 1595a(c)(2)(A)) and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. ICE HSI El Paso is investigating the seizure with assistance from CBP.

ICE HSI launched Operation Stolen Promise in April 2020 to protect U.S. consumers from the increasing and evolving threat posed by the pandemic. The operation involves various federal agencies, including CBP, the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and multiple private sector partners, including Pfizer, 3M, Amazon and others.

Operation Stolen Promise combines ICE HSI’s expertise in global trade, financial fraud, international operations and cybercrime to investigate financial fraud schemes, the importation of prohibited pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, offending e-commerce schemes, and any other illicit criminal activities associated with the COVID-19 virus that may compromise legitimate trade, financial systems and/or endangers the public. 

For more information or to report COVID

Counterfeit sports memorabilia seized by Customs.

Image of seized jerseys, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers in Cincinnati seized 200 counterfeit sports jerseys bearing the autograph of various athletes – including Jason Witten, Dwayne Haskins, Rod Carew and Minkah Fitzpatrick. If authentic, the value of the jerseys would have been worth over $42,000. This shipment was sent from the Philippines to Nashville, Tennessee.

“Counterfeiters only care about making a profit,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie. “They don’t care about the effect their fake product has on you, your family, or your job. Our officers are well-trained to find seizures like these, to continue our mission of protecting the American public and the American economy”

In Fiscal Year 2020, CBP seized 26,503 shipments of counterfeit goods worth nearly $1.3 billion had the goods been genuine. Most of these seizures were of apparel and accessories, but fake medical supplies played a significant role as well. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, CBP has seized more than 13.5 million counterfeit face masks, and more than 177,000 unapproved COVID-19 test kits.

CBP encourages consumers to be aware of counterfeit and pirated goods when shopping this holiday season, particularly when purchasing online. CBP has also established an educational initiative to raise consumer awareness about the consequences and dangers associated with purchasing counterfeit and pirated goods online or in stores. More information about that initiative is available at http://www.cbp.gov/fakegoodsrealdangers.

San Ysidro CBP officers seize $1 million in currency bound for Mexico.

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Photo by John Guccione http://www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release – on December 9th, CBP officers stopped a vehicle traveling to Mexico for further inspection. During the inspection by the CBP canine team, the dog alerted CBP to the driver’s side quarter panel of the car.

Further inspection by CBP officers found many wrapped packages containing unreported US currency in the quarter panels, under the rear seat of the third row and the cargo area.

The media release doesn’t go into further details other than writing the cash was seized.

Typically, US media releases would mention the case was referred to Homeland Security Investigations – the criminal investigation arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

If you have had your currency seized by Customs, call David Hsu now at 832-896-6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com for immediate help. You typically only have 30 days to respond to a currency seizure.

Withhold Release Order issued for Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

white flowers in tilt shift lenswhite flowers in tilt shift lens

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced today that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the over 400 ports of entry into the US will detain all shipments from Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC).

The Withhold Release Order (WRO) was issued for XPCC based on information that reasonably indicates XPCC uses forced and convict labor in their cotton and cotton products.

The recent WRO is the sixth issued by CBP against goods manufactured by forced labor in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Under a WRO, importers have two options,

Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise mined, manufactured, or produced, wholly or in part, by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor, and indentured labor. This WRO will require detention at all U.S. ports of entry of all cotton products produced by the XPCC and any similar products that the XPCC produces. Importers of detained shipments have two options – export the shipment or demonstrate the merchandise was not producd with forced labor.

If you have had your shipment detained for a violation of an active WRO – contact trade attorney David Hsu by phone or email at 832-896-6288 or attorney.dave@yahoo.com.