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.

San Juan CBP seizes counterfeit luxury products worth $265,000.

Image of seized Rolex watches, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in San Juan seized counterfeit watches and jewelry from a shipment from Hong Kong. If genuine, the value of the counterfeit products would total approximately $256,000. The above image from Customs shows a display of the fake Rolex brand watches seized.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, you may face both criminal and civil penalties. Contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 to discuss your options – feel free to also send us an email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Tobacco from Malawi’s Alliance One International no longer subject to withhold release order.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Earlier today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) changed a withhold release order (WRO) to allow tobacco from Malawi’s Alliance One International, LLC.

What is a withhold release order (WRO)?
A WRO is used by CBP to prevent the importation of goods from companies with a reasonable suspicion of being produced using forced labor.

How do you cancel a WRO?
CBP will require an audit of the company to cancel a WRO. In the instant article, Alliance One International’s social compliance program was likely evaluated and found by Customs to minimize the risks of forced labor from the supply chain. Alliance One likely had to demonstrate to CBP the the tobacco produced and harvested from their farms does not use forced labor.

Does this impact the other tobacco growers on Malawi?
No, the WRO will continue to apply to imports of tobacco from Malawi by any other company that has not demonstrated to CBP there is no forced labor in its supply chain.

Can you tell me more about a WRO?
The WRO was born out of Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307. This statute prohibits importation of merchandise mined, manufactured or produced, wholly or in part, by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor and indentured labor.

If you are an exporter subject to a WRO, and would like the WRO to be removed, contact attorney David Hsu by phone/text anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Follow CBP Office of Trade on Twitter @CBPTradeGov.

Counterfeit purses, headphones, sunglasses and even coolers seized by Customs.

Seized “Gucci” sunglasses, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport seized counterfeit purses, headphones, sunglasses and Yeti collers valued at over $108,000 if authentic. This seized shipment originated from Hong Kong – where 9 out of 10 seizure cases reported by Customs indicate as the source of the counterfeit goods. I believe the tech goods are likely made across the border in Shenzhen and the fashion items are also made cheaply across the border in Guangzhou.

The exact counterfeit items included Tiffany & Company rings, six Louis Vuitton handbags, seven pairs of Chanel and Guicci sunglasses, Beats headphones, seven Apple AirPod Pros and two Yeti coolers.

My guess is the Yeti coolers are made by one of the vendors on Aliexpress that sells same or similar type coolers, not sure why they would risk a seizure by using the Yeti name.

CBP officers intercepted a shipment and after reviewing the information in the shipping documents, selected it for examination. During the examination, officers discovered three Tiffany & Co rings, six Louis Vuitton handbags, seven pairs of Chanel and Gucci sunglasses, Powerbeats Beats by Dre headphones, seven Apple AirPod Pros and two Yeti coolers.

In general, seized goods suspected of being counterfeit will have samples sent to the CBP’s Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Center of Excellence and Expertise’s import specialists to determine their authenticity. At this CEE, the staff will examine the goods and discuss the items with the trademark owners. After examining the goods, import specialists determined the goods were counterfeit and seized the shipment.

If you receive a Notice of Seizure from Customs, you have 30 days to respond. Contact David Hsu for all your customs seizure needs 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.

 

CBP seizes unsafe toy ducks.

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), CBP officers at the Georgia seaport seized 5,000 stuffed toy ducks after tests found the ducks contained excessive amounts of lead.

The container arrived from Hong Kong and was labeled in boxes labeled “Doctor Duck”. The toys were detained and a sample was shipped to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for testing.
Test results found the toys contained excess levels of lead and cannot be entered into the US, meaning the next step for CBP will be to destroy the over $100,000 worth of toys.
If your shipment has been seized for excessive lead paint, contact David Hsu for a no cost consultation at 832-896-6288 or by email to attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Counterfeit Super Bowl rings seized.

Superbowl Rings 2

Image of seized rings, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at O’Hare’s International Mail Facility seized a package of 35 counterfeit NFL Championship rings from China. The April shipment was held for further inspection due to x-ray images showing inconsistencies. The shipment was declared as ring and valued at $10 each. However, upon opening the packages, CBP officers found 35 counterfeit NFL Championship rings. CBP determined the rings to be counterfeit due to poor quality, poor packaging and low value. The approximate MSRP of the rings, if real, would have been $350,000.

According to the Customs media release:

The parcel contained fake Superbowl rings for the NY Jets (1) and Giants (4), Pittsburgh Steelers (6), San Francisco 49ers (5), Dallas Cowboys (5), Washington Redskins (5), Green Bay Packers (6) and Denver Broncos (3).

If you have had your shipment seized for IPR violations, 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.