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

Zimbabwe claims CBP’s accusation of use of forced labor in their diamond mine is a “shameless lie”.

photo of diamond ring

Photo by W W on Pexels.com

Earlier this week, I blogged about CBP’s issuance of a Withhold Release Order (WRO) that allows CBP to seize products produced “in whole or in part using forced labor”.

One of the products subject to detention are “Rough diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe; mined from forced labor.

Earlier today, moneyweb.co.za (a Zimbabwe financial web publication) accused the US of lying about diamond mining at the Marange Diamond Fields using forced labor – calling the claim a “shameless lie”.

In support of their claim, the article cites the Kimberley Process (steps that are taken to ensure diamond mining isn’t used to fund conflicts) finding that there are no restrictions on trade in Zimbabwean diamonds. The Kimberley Process represents 81 countries and covers 99.8% of the global rough diamond production.

Zimbabwe’s deputy mines minister, Polite Kambamura is quoted as saying the “doors are open” if CBP wants to visit Marange and that “we are a responsible state miner that operates within the laws of the country and we observe strict adherence to critical tenets of corporate governance”.

Like Marange in Zimbabwe, if you feel your company has been wrongly placed on CBP’s WRO list, contact experienced customs and trade attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP issues detention orders against companies who may have used forced labor.

woman in black shirt and green latex gloves

Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) press release, CBP issued 5 Withhold Release Orders (WROs) covering different products imported from different countries. WRO’s are also detention orders and allow CBP to seize products that are produced in whole or in part using forced labor.

The detention orders are part of a US law that makes it illegal to import goods to the US that are made “wholly or in part by forced labor”.  Forced labor covers convict labor, indentured labor and child labor.

The press release did not specify how CBP was made aware of the allegations of forced labor, but typically investigations may be started by news reports and tips from either the public or trade community.

According to the press release, the following WROs are effective immediately:

Garments produced by Hetian Taida Apparel Co., Ltd. in Xinjiang, China; produced with prison or forced labor.
Disposable rubber gloves produced in Malaysia by WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd.; produced with forced labor.
Gold mined in artisanal small mines (ASM) in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); mined from forced labor.
Rough diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe; mined from forced labor.
Bone black manufactured in Brazil by Bonechar Carvão Ativado Do Brasil Ltda; produced with forced labor.

If you are an importer and have had your items seized on suspicion of being wholly or in part produced by forced labor – contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu. We assist importers in re-exporting the shipment or submitting information to counter CBP’s claims – call/text 832-896-6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.