CBP seizes prohibited ivory products in Seattle.

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CBP agriculture specialists at Sea-Tac
found ivory in the luggage of a couple
arriving from the Philippines on May 11. Photo Credit: CBP

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release dated May 22nd, Agriculture Specialists at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport discovered a variety of prohibited ivory products (carved tusks) in the luggage of a husband and wife who arrived on a flight from the Philippines on May 11.

An x-ray and search of the traveler’s belongings revealed 34 pieces of carved elephant ivory, two carved hippopotamus tusks and two carved warthog tusks. The agriculture specialists contacted inspectors from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who inspected and seized the items. The couple also received a $500 fine for transporting the items in violation of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

If you or anyone you know has had a CBP seizure, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CBP seizes more than $1.5 million in counterfeit hangbags and belts.

LV

Credit: CBP.gov. CBP officers at the Port of Tacoma
seized merchandise that violated the
trademark rights of Chanel, Luis Vuitton,
Calvin Klein, Gucci and Fendi.

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) release, the Port of Tacoma seized counterfeit handbags and belts, among other high-end items totaling more than $1.5 million.

Without going into details, the press release indicated the counterfeit items were “of poor quality and violated the trademark rights of Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Gucci and Fendi”.

CBP enforces over 500 U.S. trade laws and regulations (such as trademark violations of the handbags) for the over 47 federal agencies with a goal of “protecting the U.S. economy and its consumers from harmful imports and unfair trade practices”.

If you or someone you know had their imports seized due to CBP’s belief the items are counterfeit, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu, 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com .

Colorado woman fined $500 by Customs for not declaring an apple.

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As has widely been reported, Colorado resident Crystal Tadlock was catching a connecting flight in Minnesota back to Colorado from a trip to France when CBP in Minnesota stopped her and fined her for not declaring an apple. At the time, CBP indicated they would fine her $500 for failure to declare the apple. Crystal claims she packed the apple (served as part of the in-flight meal service) in her carry-on and forgot about it until she was clearing Customs.

Customs has discretion to fine up to a $1,000 penalty for first time offenses of bringing in prohibited agricultural products and Crystal will likely receive a notice in her mail in about 30 days. Not sure if Crystal is a frequent traveler, however the other consequence of this seizure will be the loss of Global Entry Status.

If you or someone you know has had a Customs seizure and you have received a penalty notice from Customs – call experienced Customs attorney David Hsu for immediate help – 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CBP in Georgia intercept “first-in-port” insects.

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Mottled tortoise beetle (Image via Wikipedia)

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Savannah intercepted the pigeon tick, straight-snouted weevil and tortoise beetle in containers destined for Georgia.

These insects are known as “first-in-port” because the pests have never been encountered at a specific port of entry.

In January, CBP agriculture specialists at the Port of Savannah inspected tile and stone on shipments arriving from Turkey and Italy and discovered these potentially harmful insects.

This inspection was just one of the over 3.85 million twenty-foot container equivalent units of cargo processed yearly by the Port of Savannah, the second-largest on the East Coast.

If your imports have been seized due to containing pests, call experienced Customs attorney David Hsu for immediate assistance, 832-896-6288, or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CBP seizes ancient artifacts for repatriation.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release, CBP officers at Miami International Airport (MIA) seized two shipments containing suspected ancient artifacts.

The first shipment from the United Kingdom was a wooden cargo container with a manifest indicating a value of $252,000. When CBP opened the container they found a helmet appearing to be an ancient artifact. An expert appraiser determined the helmet to be an authentic “Corinthian Helmet” dating back to 100-500 B.C.

The second seizure was from El Salvador containing 13 artifacts of Mayan origin.

While not frequently mentioned in the press, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for investigating the loss or looting of cultural heritage properties and returning them to their country of origin. CBP works with ICE to ensure the repatriation rules are followed.

If you or someone you know has had artifacts seized, call experienced customs seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288, or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com for a free consultation.

Highlights from CBP’s FY2017 Trade and Travel Report.

CBP FY2017 Trade Travel Report

Screenshot of the FY2017 CBP Trade and Travel Report

CBP released their “Trade and Travel” fiscal year 2017 report on February 13, 2018 and here are a few highlights from the report:

1. CBP officers processed more than 397.2 million travelers at the air, land, and sea ports of entry in 2017
2. Arriving air travelers has increased each year since FY2009 with 4.2 percent more air arrivals over FY2016
3. CBP collected $40.1 billion in duties, taxes and fees in FY2017
4. Automated processing at airports has increased from 3.3% in FY2013 to over 50% in FY2017
5. CBP processed $2.39 trillion in imports
6. CBP processed 33.2 million entries and more than 28.5 million cargo containers
7. Shipments violating intellectual property rights increased by 8% in FY2017 to 34,143 seizures
8. Establishment of the E-Commerce and Small Business Branch within the Office of Trade in FY2017

The full text of the report can be found here.

If you have any import, export, customs or trade law questions, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com

CBP seizes fake perfume valued over $31 million.

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In the past few months, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and import specialists in the seaport at Los Angeles have seized over 475,000 bottles of imported perfume bearing counterfeit trademarks. While the cost of the counterfeit perfumes may be low, if genuine, CBP estimates the MSRP of the seized perfumes to retail over $31 million.

CBP’s fiscal year starts October 1, 2017 and since then, CBP officials in Los Angeles have seized 11 shipments with suspected counterfeit marks along with confusingly similar fragrances. As you are aware, CBP enforces the trademarks for companies registered with CBP. The seizues included violations of trademarks belonging to over 34 perfume brands.

According to the CBP news release, the “counterfeit brands included Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Coach, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Guess, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Victoria Secret, and Perry Ellis among others.”

As a general rule, if you purchase perfume at prices “too good to be true”, it is likely the item is counterfeit. The news release indicates the counterfeit perfumes were packaged in boxes and colors resembling the genuine items with fake country of origin markings (“Made in France”) even though the port of origin was China.

CBP is especially vigilent in seizing suspected counterfeit perfumes as these items are placed on the skin and absorbed by the body – counterfeit perfumes may be composed of chemicals harmful to the body and may be made and sold without any product testing.

In FY 2016, CBP seized over $1.4 billion worth of counterfeit goods – if you have had your imports seized and want to speak to an experienced attorney, call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com for immediate assistance.

What is a Customs “Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA)”?

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After your property is seized at an airport, border crossing or any of the other 400 ports of entry into the United States, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will send you a “Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA)” by certified mail, return receipt requested to the address you provided to CBP at the time of the seizure.

DHS and CBP are required by law to send you the notice under 19 USC 1607 and 19 CFR 162.45. The notice tells you that DHS has seized the items and will intend to “forfeit and sell, or otherwise dispose of according to law”. The final disposition of your seized property ultimately depends on the item seized.

If you do not receive a notice by mail, you can still file a claim within 30 days from the date of the publication of the CBP “Official Notification” posted on the forfeiture.gov website.

If you have had currency, suspected trademarked goods, or any other property seized by Customs, call David Hsu, an experienced customs and trade law attorney who works for you to get your hard earned property and money back. Call or email anytime, 832-896-6288, dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

Dulles CBP seizes $11k from couple traveling to Vietnam.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release, CBP officers seized $11,882 from a couple traveling out of Dulles on February 6, 2018.

During inspections of travelers leaving the US, CBP stopped a couple boarding a flight to Vietnam. When stopped by CBP, the couple initially told CBP they had $4,000. CBP officers then read the reporting requirements to the travelers who then claimed they possessed $7,000. Upon further questioning, the travelers wrote down they had $9,000. After searching the traveler’s belongings, CBP found additional currency in the male passenger’s pants and and a purse belonging to the female traveler. A total of $11,882 was seized by CBP.

CBP does not limit how much money travelers can carry, however, CBP does require reporting of any currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more. A common misconception we hear at our law office is that the amount of money being carried will somehow be subject to a tax, which is not true.

As the couple was traveling to Vietnam at the start of February, I believe the large amount of cash was to be used during the celebration of Tet which falls on Friday, February 16th this year. Hopefully the couple will return in time to respond to the seizure notice that will inevitably be mailed to their address on file.

If your hard-earned money was taken as part of the $289,000 seized on average by CBP daily,  call David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com, we are here for you!

 

 

 

Importing Refurbished Cell Phones and Customs Seizures.

iPhone Housing

Today’s blog post is in response to our firm seeing an increase in the number of importers having their Samsung or Apple phones seized by Customs.

Typically, our client is a company in the United States that purchases used Apple iPhones or Samsung Galaxy phones from the US. The used phones vary anywhere from A to C stock and may have broken screens, defective home buttons, scratched, dented or damaged housing or cracked camera lens. Some phones are store demos with burn-in on the screens, customer returns or old, new stock. The phones are packaged and then sent to China for repair and refurbishing. The fixed phones are then sent back to the US for sale through wholesalers and distributors.

However, as the phones are shipped back to the company in the US, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detains shipments to review whether or not the cell phones violate any intellectual property rights (IPR).

CBP will first detain the phones and has 30-days to speak to the trademark or IPR holder to determine the authenticity of the trademark or IPR. The trademark could be the “Samsung” logo, the “Apple” logo or even the “iPhone” trademark printed in text on the back of the phones. More often than not, the shipped phones change from being “detained” to being “seized”.

The majority of the seizures are due to trademarks found on the rear housing of the phones. As most importers cannot provide authorization by the trademark or IPR holder the right to use the mark, CBP considers the importer phones to be counterfeit and are then subsequently seized.

If you have had your refurbished iPhone or Samsung phone seized by Customs, call experienced cell phone seizure attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com. There are certain time limitations after a seizure has occurred so contact David Hsu today.