Kratom contaminated with salmonella seized by CBP.

Image of kratom powder, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Detroit seized more than a half ton of “salmonella-laced Kratom” at the Fort Street Cargo Facility.

Author’s comment: the original headline was “CBP Seizes Half Ton of Salmonella-Laced Kratom“. Not sure why they used the word “laced” in the headline as lacing something is typically used to mean adding an ingredient to bulk up a drug. I am unsure how a kratom exporter can “lace” kratom with salmonella on purpose or if there would be a benefit to doing so. Additionally, the use of the word “lace” to describe kratom may also be an effort to associate kratom as dangerous as other illegal drugs that are frequently laced such as crack, heroin, PCP, etc.

The media release reports 1,200 pounds of contaminated powder (valued according to CBP at $405,000) was selected for further inspection due to an unusual description and classification discrepancies.

CBP said the kratom “which originated from China, were manifested as botanical soils from Canada, though Officers and specialists believed it to be consistent in appearance to bulk green tea”.

Author’s comment: this is the first time I have heard of kratom from China, maybe it was transhipped from Indonesia? CBP did not indicate the “classification discrepancy” or point out what HTSUS code was used to enter the kratom.

CBP took a sample of the power and sent it to the Food and Drug Administration for lab tests – which confirmed the shipment was kratom but also saw it was contaminated with salmonella. As a result, CBP seized the shipment “due to significant risk to public health and safety”.

Author’s comment: CBP does not specify the import alert on kratom as the basis for seizure. I have not seen the seizure notice (it will only be sent to the importer of record), but it was likely seized for not being described as kratom on the shipping documents.

In the last paragraph of the CBP media release, they write:

Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, and its leaves are often ingested in the form of tea. Depending on dosage, Kratom can produce both stimulant and sedative effects. Kratom is not a scheduled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, though the Drug Enforcement Administration currently lists it as a Drug or Chemical of Concern.

It is interesting they do not mention the 2016 import alert regarding kratom. If you have had your shipment of kratom (mitragyna speciosa) seized by CBP, contact David Hsu, 24/7 by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Ancient artifact from Iran seized by US Customs.

Seized Iranian vase, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Kentucky seized a shipment containing an antique amber glass bottle believed to be an antique from the 9th to 10th century. CBP officers forwarded the antique to a subject matter export who examined the bottle and determined the bottle was from Iran between the 11th and early 13th centuries.

The shipment from the UK bound for an address in Colorado was unfortunately seized for Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) violations. As you are aware, current OFAC rules prohibit the importation of goods or services from Iran. OFAC is a department under the U.S. Treasury and enforces economic and trade sanctions against certain countries and individuals who are believed to be involved with terrorism, narcotics, human trafficking or other illegal and disreputable activities.

Besides OFAC issues, CBP also helps protect cultural property and keeps antiques with their rightful owners. The seized Iranian vase will be returned to Iran.

In addition to merchandise from Iran, OFAC regulations prohibit importation of goods and services from Cuba, Burma (Myanmar), and most of Sudan. Certain exceptions can be made but do require an OFAC license for those importations.

If you have any questions about OFAC enforcement or compliance, contact David Hsu by phone/text anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

$252,000 in “prop currency/money” seized by Customs.

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Image of seized bundles of “prop money”, source: CBP.gov

In Mid-May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Ohio seized counterfeit $100 bills totaling over $252,000. The shipment was from China to an address in Oklahoma. The package was selected for examination and an x-ray of the package showed what appears to typically be bundled currency.

Upon further inspection, CBP officers found $252,300 in cash (photo above is the actual seized currency). The currency was determined to be fake because it was printed on regular paper and had the same serial number for every bill. Additionally, on the back of the currency were the words in simplified Chinese: 道具专用 (see photo below of the actual image released by Customs).

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Image of simplified Chinese writing on the back of the $100 bill, source: CBP.gov

As an aside – simplified Chinese is the writing used in mainland China. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan all use the traditional form of writing Chinese characters.

The CBP media release explained the Chinese words as foreign writing and did not translate the words in Chinese. The words in Chinese roughly translate to “for prop use only”.

CBP says these notes are “Foreign Writing Notes” and are against Federal law and considered contraband. Sometimes they are also referred to as “motion picture, foreign writing notes”. While the currency is noted for “prop use only”, the currency is seized as the foreign notes are frequently passed off as real currency.

Just my thoughts:

  1. My guess is the person in Oklahoma was going to use the fake money for a video or movie and purchased the play money through a China-based e-commerce portal.
  2. I have never held this kind of prop currency, but maybe the writing in Chinese is erasable? The Secret Service is concerned about the importation of foreign writing notes, and probably has seen many people pass off these notes as real – perhaps the writing in Chinese can be removed?
  3. The CBP media release did not say this importation was referred to the Secret Service or HSI, CBP probably will seize the currency, issue a seizure notice. Without a referral to HSI, CBP has probably determined there was no criminal activity on the part of the importer of record in Oklahoma.

If you have had funny money, or any other of your goods seized by Customs – contact David Hsu if you have any questions – you can call/text 832-896-6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP Seizes Fake Cat and Dog Flea Collars.

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Counterfeit “seresto” brand food, source: cbp.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Pittsburgh seized 58 fake “Seresto” brand dog and cat flea collars so far this month. CBP officers seized the 13 parcels and submitted samples the the trademark holder, Bayer. The shipments were from China and Hong Kong and if genuine have an approximate retail value of $3,500.

CBP has warned pet owners to not purchsae counterfeit collars as they may contain harmful ingredients that could cause chemical burns or fur loss.

If your goods have been seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text for a no cost or obligation consultation at 832-896-6288, or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Wigs and books seized for containing counterfeit currency.

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Image of wigs containing concealed cash, source: cbp.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Dallas Fort Worth port of entry found $63,000 in counterfeit currency in separate shipments from Nigeria. One shipment contained soft cover books, that upon further inspection yielded currency taped to the pages of the books. The other shipment contained wigs and hair. Upon examination, CBP officers opened the package and found currency in $50 and $100 denominations.

The media release says the counterfeit currency was turned over to the Secret Service.

Funny Money

Image of $100 bills taped to the inside of pages, source: cbp.gov

In general, currency seizures are handled by CBP. In general if your currency case is referred to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), this means Customs likely believes your seized currency is related to something criminal. If your currency seizure case is referred to the United States Secret Service (USSS), it means your currency is suspected to be counterfeit.

If your currency has been seized by CBP, HSI or the USSS, then contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

 

Counterfeit markers seized in Minnesota.

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Seized fake “Sharpies”, source: CBP.gov

So I blog a lot about seized goods, mostly luxury goods, phones, shoes, medicine, and recently COVID test kits – however this is the first time I’ve seen Customs publish a media release on seizure of school supplies.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Minnesota inspected a rail container and discovered market sets violating intellectual property rights. The seizure contained 5,000 marker sets and if genuine would carry an MRSP of about $115,000. Based off the above picture supplied by Customs, it appears they seized these goods for not using the “Sharpie” brand word mark, but likely for copying the design of the barrel and cap commonly seen on “Sharpie” brand permanent marker.

If your goods have been seized, there may be something you can do – contact customs seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP officers seize counterfeit luxury goods.

Shoes

Image of counterfeit shoes, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in North Dakota inspected a rail container and found counterfeit shoes and a dress. CBP officers examined the shoes and seized the shipment for violating intellectual property rights (IPR). From looking at the photo by CBP, it appears the use of the word mark was the basis for the seizure. Most counterfeiters typically copy the pattern, but adding the word mark does violate the IPR.

If authentic, the estimated MSRP of the goods is approximately $28,545.

If you have had your shipment seized by Customs, contact David Hsu for a no-cost, no obligation consultation. There are certain things you must know to protect yourself if your goods have been seized. Contact by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP officers seize counterfeit televisions.

Televisions

Image of seized television, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at Minneosta’s International Falls Port of Entry inspected a rail container and found 440 televisions that violated intellectual property rights (IPR) regulations. If genuine, the MSRP of the goods would retail for approximately $175,560.

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The CBP media release did not specify what IPR violations occurred. Judging by the photo above provided by Customs, I suspect there may be two issues:

(1) The USB logo is used, however, the manufacturer of this TV may not have been qualified to display the certified USB logo.

(2) I think the main reason is the use of the “HDMI” logo on the box. The HDMI logo, and High-Definition Multimedia Interface are trademarks or registered trademarks to HDMI Licensing, LLC.

Based on what’s on the press release, there are several options for the importer of record. If you have had any goods seized by Customs, contact customs seizure attorney David Hsu anytime by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Fake Cialis and Viagra Pills Seized by CBP.

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Counterfeit medication from Turkey; source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Kentucky seized counterfeit Cialis and Viagra pills in Kentucky. The shipment from Turkey was destined to a city in California and labeled as “throat lozenges and candies”. However, CBP’s experienced officers looked at the totality of the circumstances and determined the route of the shipment and the packaging of the pills were indicative of being counterfeit pills.

Customs warns consumers of the dangers of buying counter medicines – which may have the incorrect or harmful ingredients.

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

35 pounds of counterfeit Xanax seized by Customs.

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Image of seized Xanax, source: CBP.gov

Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in the Champlain Port of Entry seized 35 pounds of counterfeit Xanax among 27 shipments.

The shipments were unlabeled pills but resembled the anxiety drug. Afterwards, CBP sent the pills for testing and were determined to contain the properties of Xanax. As Xanax is a schedule 4 controlled substance and cannot be shipped to the US without a prescription.

If you have had your shipment seized, contact David Hsu for a free consultation by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com or dh@gjatradelaw.com.