Does my company need a Social Compliance program?

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Yes and Yes. While import and export compliance are the typical programs in place for importers and exporters – one often neglected compliance program importers must have is the social compliance program.

The social compliance program is necessary to ensure compliance with Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, prohibiting the importation of merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or in part, in any foreign country by forced or indentured child labor – including forced child labor. Importers who import goods produced with forced labor may have their goods subject to exclusion, detention, seizure and may lead to a criminal investigation.

While many importers are confident their manufacturing supplier is not using forced labor, CBP also goes after importers who are downstream from the actual instance of forced labor. For example, even though you do not purchase goods from a company using forced labor – if the raw materials used in the production of the goods you import are made using forced labor – your goods are subject to detention. Even if the raw materials go through several manufacturers or companies before being incorporated into the final product you import – you as the importer of record are liable for any instances of forced labor at any stage of the supply chain.

A social compliance program is therefore a must to minimize the risk of a Customs detention on the basis of use of forced labor. Not only do importers need a social compliance program in place, they also need to adequately educate and train all key personnel on minimizing the importation of goods produced using forced labor.

If you want to minimize your detention risk of goods subject to a pending Withhold Release Order or have any questions about whether your goods may be subject to detention based on the multitude of outstanding WRO’s in place – call us for your free consultation. Our firm prepares and trains companies on forced labor compliance and are ready to help you. Call David Hsu on his cellphone or text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Massive amount of counterfeit coins and fake $100 bills seized by Customs.

Images of seized $100 bills, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP in Chicago seized 279 parcels containing multiple denominations in coin currency. The shipment consisted of 88 packages containing 2,020 coins with subsequent seizures containing 93 packages and over 2,548 coins. The third and fourth seizure contained 52 parcels of 908 counterfeit coins and 46 parcels containing 1,191 coins. CBP reports most of the coins were collector items bearing images of a buffalo, bald eagle or native Americans stamped on the coins. The packages were seized on suspicion of being counterfeit.

In addition to coins, CBP also seized multiple packages containing $149,200 and $9,700 in counterfeit 100 dollar bills. While the shipments were manifested as “bar props”, CBP still seized the counterfeit currency because copying Federal Reserve notes is a federal offense.

I often see counterfeit $100 bills for sale on popular online shopping websites that rhyme with “dish” located in China and selling play money labeled as “prop money”. If you are the importer of record, CBP may (likely will) seize the fake money, even if the words “prop money” are written on the face of the bill, the currency is still a copy of real currency and therefore illegal to import.

If you have had your goods seized, whether it is collector coins from China or copies of $100 bills, contact David Hsu by phone text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com anytime for immediate assistance.

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.

Your office is in Texas, can you still represent me? I live in [your state here].

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The firm and I are located in Houston, and I only have a Texas law license (SBOT #: 24062636). About once or twice a week I am frequently asked the above question – whether or not I can represent someone a client in another state?

The answer is yes! While we are based in Houston, Texas, we can represent clients in any state, jurisdiction or country because trade and customs law issues are matters of federal law.

It is very common for attorneys to represent clients in other states because there are many other areas of federal law besides trade and customs law – such as bankruptcy, IRS and tax issues and immigration law.

No matter where you are, we can represent you – call or text 24/7: 832.896.6288 or send me an email to my catch-all email address: attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$450,000 worth of vaping pens from HK seized by US Customs.

Image of seized dragster pens, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at Chicago O’Hare seized 50,000 vaping pens from Hong Kong.

The “dragster Mountain Vape Pens” were seized because they violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) regarding the importation of tobacco products – specifically for being misbranded and for being imported by an unauthorized agent. Typically this means an importer is not authorized to import goods (that may be counterfeit).

According to the Customs media release, Customs believes the shipment was intentionally and improperly mislabeled as “lithium ion batteries” to avoid seizure.

While not reported in the Customs media release – shipments that are mislabeled are typically seized under statute 19USC1499(a)(3)(A), copied below:

(3)Unspecified articles If any package contains any article not specified in the invoice or entry and, in the opinion of the Customs Service, the article was omitted from the invoice or entry—(A) with fraudulent intent on the part of the seller, shipper, owner, agent, importer of record, or entry filer, the contents of the entire package in which such article is found shall be subject to seizure; or

19USC1499(a)(3)(A) is a catch all statute Customs frequently uses to seize any goods that are not included in paperwork. Omissions or mis-representations on the paperwork (regardless of goods being imported) is the easiest way for Customs to seize shipments. If you are in the import business – be sure the exporter is correctly declaring the shipment and are following your import compliance manual and procedures.

If you import and don’t have a compliance manual or procedures – contact me, you need one, 832-896-6288.

Going back to the vape pens – Customs will likely not release these goods as the FDA has increasingly cracked down on the importation of these vape pens and other nicotine delivery systems. The alleged counterfeit nature of the pens and the mislabeling of the shipment will likely mean these vape pens will not be released.

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

That stinks! Customs seizes counterfeit perfume.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at the Los Angeles/Long Beach (LA/LB) seaport seized a shipment of counterfeit perfumes valued over $366,000 if authentic.

The shipment of over 80 cartons from Hong Kong contained 3,739 bottles with brand names such as Dior, Chanel and Paco Rabanne according to import specialists with the Consumer Products Mass Merchandising Center (CPMM). The CPMM will contact the trademark or intellectual property rights holder and seize the goods if they are told the goods are not authentic.

If you have had your shipment seized for alleged trademark violations – contact David Hsu to discuss your options by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Counterfeit AirPods seized in Houston – over $1.6 million worth.

Seized AirPods, source: cbp.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP working in Houston in late January seized counterfeit electronics – including Apple’s “AirPods” worth more than $1.6 million dollars of MSRP value. According to the media release – the importer of record abandoned the merchandise, meaning CBP will destroy the goods.

Do you have to abandon your goods if they have been seized for intellectual property rights violations?
No, you do not – the other alternative is to petition for the release of the goods if you know they are authentic. While a petition does not guarantee a return of your goods, it gives you the opportunity to present your information and argue why the goods are authentic to CBP.

The remainder of the media release reiterated CBP’s arguments against counterfeit goods – (1) may be produced from forced labor, (2) economic harm to the trademark holder, (3) unsafe products that may cause injuries to the consumer.

If you or anyone you know has had your shipment seized for alleged intellectual property or trademark violations – contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com

Drug paraphernalia seized by CBP in Chicago.

“Seahorse” vape kits seized by CBP, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Chicago seized drug paraphernalia goods on multiple days earlier in December. In one shipment, CBP seized wax vaping kits and glass pipes in another shipment.

In general – if you import any sort of glass pipe, or glass pipes with plastic roses in them, or other vaping kits – they will likely be seized by CBP because it is illegal to import and export paraphernalia (21 U.S.C. 863(a)).

CBP broadly defines drug paraphernalia as:

“any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance, possession of which is unlawful under this subchapter.” (21 U.S.C. 863(d))

CBP seized both the wax vaping kits and glass pipes because they can be used to smoke marijuana.

If you have had your good seized because they are considered drug paraphernalia, contact seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

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

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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.

$25 million in fake watches seized by Customs.

Image of seized Rolex watches, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville, Kentucky seized 1,280 “Rolex” watches, if authentic, would be worth an estimated $25.2 million dollars. The shipment from Hong Kong arrived in four shipments to Louisville, Kentucky ultimately destined for Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are wondering why the seizures usually occur in Louisville, it is because that is where DHL/FedEx/UPS have their hub for shipments from China.

The Customs media release claims the watches were mis-manifested (wrongly described on the entry paperwork, packing list, or invoice). As an aside – Customs at their discretion seize goods that are mis-identfied.

Customs seized the watches and sent either sample photos or a sample seized watch to Rolex to confirm authenticity. As Rolex (and any property rights holder) denied the authenticity, the watches were seized and will be forfeited (destroyed by Customs).

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 at anytime or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com or dh@gjatradelaw.com.