Wood Packaging Material Dangers – not just pests.

wooden pallets
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I frequently post about pests, larvae or other wood-boring and non wood-boring insections in wood packaging materials (wpm) that cause most of the problems. However, the other unknown danger not frequently reported is another risk of using WPM – the missing IPPC 15 stamp.

IPPC is short for the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) 15 stamps. IPPC stamps are used to certify the wood packaging material has been treated with approved measures prior to shipment. Untreated wpm can result in insects and larvae to burrow into the wood materials prior to shipment and escape the ship or port once the shipment arrives.

In general, an IPPC 15 stamp needs to be visible and meet the approved design standard. The most recent standard is from May 2017 and can be found at the IPPC website here (scroll down to number 15). If you are importer, you must ensure the foreign shipper is in compliance with the IPPC standard if WPM is used. This is often forgotten among first time importers.

In May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists in New Orleans found two shipments from Brazil that were not in compliance with the IPPC standard as the stamps were missing. Due to the non-compliance, the shipments were re-exported back to their respective countries, Brazil and Suriname.

While the shipment in May was re-exported, CBP may sometimes allow for manipulation and other remedial measures depending on the situation. Call David Hsu to discuss your options – 832-896-6288. You can also text at the same number.

Failure to meet IPPC 15 standards for WPM is a serious problem and can lead to delays, fines, penalties and a lot of unhappy people who are relying on the timely delivery of your shipment. If you have a WPM issue, or want to be sure you are in compliance with the IPPC 15 standard, call David Hsu by phone or text at 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com anytime. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Counterfeit AirPods seized by Customs.

Seized TWS headphones, source: CBP.gov

In mid-June, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville seized 8 shipments manifested as “bluetooth audio devices” and found 817 pairs of earbuds that bear a strong resemblance to Apple Incorporated’s AirPods three-dimensional configuration trademark. As you are aware, CBP is required by law to enforce trademarks and patents if the trademark/patent/copyright holder submits a request to Customs.

In all cases involving intellectual property rights seizures – CBP import specialists will submit photos or samples of goods suspected of violating intellectual property rights to the rights holder. In 100% of the cases, Apple will always reject any sample or photo as counterfeit. Even if the imported phone is a phone previously sold through T-Mobile, traded-in by the first user, sold to a liquidator, exported to China for repair, then shipped back to the US – Apple will notify Customs the phone is counterfeit.

While the AirPods in this shipment did not contain the Apple logo, CBP is enforcing the 3-d configuration trademark. While the photo provided by Customs is hard to see, I believe the AirPods seized are the TWS-iXX headphones. The earlier models of the TWS I believe started with the TWS-i7, and in 2021 I see TWS-i12 headphones being sold. I cannot see the model number clearly, but can determine the photos are boxed TWS series headphones.

Customs seized the headphones and determined the value of the 817 headphones was approximately $331,360 if genuine, or about $405 per pair. I do not know how CBP valued these headphones as authentic Apple AirPods start at $199 and go as high as $249 for the AirPod Pro models.

If you have had your TWS shipment seized by Customs, or have any other IPR violations, contact Customs attorney David Hsu for immediate assistance at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com. We are based in Houston but represent clients nationwide and abroad. Call for your free consultation.

Importing solar materials? US bans some Chinese solar materials tied to forced labor.

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Two days ago, the Biden Administration announced a ban on the importation of some solar materials from Xinjiang, the province in China that supplies most of the world’s polysilicon used to make solar panels. The ban is in response to what the White House accuses China of committing genocide and repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Specifically, the ban applies to imports by “Hoshine Silicon Industry Company” and any goods made using those products (sometimes referred to as goods “downmarket”). CBP will ban imports of certain manufacturers if they have “information reasonably indicating” that a manufacturer uses forced labor to produce its goods. The risk to importers is very high and Customs will require the importer of record to provide information proving their goods are not downmarket from Hoshine Silicon or other companies subject to the ban.

Besides Hoshine Silicon Industry Company, other companies subject to the ban include:

  1. Xinjiang Daqo New Energy Company,
  2. Xinjiang East Hope Nonferrous Metals Company,
  3. Xinjiang GCL New Energy Material Technology Company, and the
  4. Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

If you are unsure what to do, or unsure your products contain the banned materials, contact our office for a free no cost consultation. We also assist companies in the preparation of a Social Compliance Program to meet CTPAT requirements and to help lower your company’s risk of forced labor issues. Contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 for assistance or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

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.

Small insect equals big Customs problem.

wooden pallets
Photo by Brent Keane on Pexels.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Specialists in California intercepted a shipment of antique terracotta roof tiles from France due to an infestation of wood boring pests. Specifically, CBP found the longhorn beetle known scientifically as the Arhopalus sp. (Cerambycidae). The larvae of the longhorn beetle are known as roundheaded borers and bore into wood, causing extensive damage to the tree and to other untreated wood.

In this seizure, Agriculture Specialists were able to locate the beetles due to fresh “frass”, a powdery sawdust that falls to the ground from the boring activity of the larvae and beetles.

As you are aware, if Customs finds invasive species or other pests, CBP will issue an Emergency Action Notice (EAN) and re-export the goods for fumigation or heat treatment. Afterwards, CBP will issue a civil penalty to the importer.

If you have received an Emergency Action Notice, there may be some alternatives instead of re-exportation. Contact David Hsu by phone/text or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, 832-896-6288 to discuss your options.

CBP seizes 4.6 million disposable gloves due to forced labor finding.


crop unrecognizable person in rubber gloves raising arms
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, officers in Missouri seized over 4.68 million latex gloves from a subsidiary of Malaysia based Top Glove Corporation Bhd. The seizure valued at $690,000 was due to information provided to CBP the gloves were manufactured using forced labor – a form of modern slavery.

Specifically, CBP issued a forced labor finding – in which they suspect Top Glove’s production process to include debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working conditions, abusive living conditions and the retention of identity documents.

Unfortunately for Top Glove, CBP will continue seizing their goods until Top Glove can prove future glove shipments were not produced using forced labor. In general, forced labor also includes indentured labor, use of convict labor, and child labor.

CBP issued a forced labor finding on March 29 based on evidence of multiple forced labor indicators in Top Glove’s production process, including debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions, and retention of identity documents.

If your company is suspected of using forced labor. contact David Hsu anytime by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com. Forced labor compliance is the new, hot enforcement area for Customs and Border Protection.

If you are an importer, and are concerned about forced labor accusations, contact us also to create your forced labor compliance program.

$101k in unreported money seized by Customs.

Seized funds from Ethiopian traveler, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at the Dulles International Airport seized over $101,000 in undeclared, unreported currency. This currency seizure is unique from my usual posts because the traveler had their currency seized when entering the US. The traveler arrived from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and upon entry declared he was in possession of $2,000 in currency. The $2,000 total later because $2,300 prior to CBP officers searching his baggage for a second time. Ultimately, a search by CBP revealed over $100,000 inside a plastic bag. While Customs seized over $101,000 from the traveler – they returned $1,995 for “humanitarian purposes”.

To make matters worse for the traveler, CBP officers determined the traveler from Ethiopia was not eligible to enter the US because he was flagged as a prior Visa Waiver Program violator. In general, a visa waiver program violator is someone who previously entered the US without a visa, and then over stayed the allotted time. The US and certain countries allow citizens of other countries to enter into the US visa free for a period of 60 or 90 days. This privilege is only extended to countries that also allow US citizens to enter their country without a visa. Unfortunately for this traveler, he previously overstayed his visa, and left the US after the visa free period expired – therefore being flagged as a visa waiver program violator.

As the traveler was not eligible to enter into the US, his currency was seized and he was sent on the next flight back to Ethiopia.

Can customs seize money from travelers entering the US?
This instant seizure is a perfect example of a question we frequently receive from our clients – can CBP seize funds from non-US citizens entering the US? And the short answer is yes, any individual crossing the border is required to declare any funds over $10,000 in their possession.

Are you overseas and have had your funds seized by US Customs?
If so, call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com for immediate assistance. We represent travelers world wide and can help you get your money back.

If you or anyone you know has had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text anytime day or night at 832-896-6288 or by email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on any part of this blog as legal advice. Instead, seek out the advice of a licensed attorney. Also, this information may be out-of-date.

$4.2 million in fake jewelry seized.

Image of seized good, source: CBP.gov

According to a CBP media release – officers in Cincinnati seized a shipment in late March containing jewelry with name brands such as Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Pandora, Cartier, Dior, Gucci and more. When suspected counterfeit goods are seized, samples and photos of the seized goods are sent to a CBP Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) where the shipment is further evaluated. At the CEE, an import specialist will determine whether the jewelry is real – one method is through verification with the property right holder.

While the declared value on the shipment was $119, the actual value of the seized goods, if authentic would total more than $4.2 million dollars.

I am frequently asked why customs uses the “if authentic” value versus the declared value – since the declared value is likely more accurate to what the seized goods actually cost.

The main reason is Customs will use the “if authentic” value when issuing fines to the importer of record. And perhaps the most obvious reason to only use the “if authentic” value is for impact. A $4.2 million seizure is much more impactful than a $119 seizure of counterfeit goods.

If you or anyone you know has had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Over $300,000 in unreported currency seized in P.R

Image of seized funds in PR, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Puerto Rico seized $348,940 in undeclared currency hidden inside wooden tables and a sink found inside a 1989 Ford cargo truck. The shipment was destined to an address in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

In general, there is no limit to how much currency (cash, checks, traveler’s checks, foreign currency) can be importer or exported by travelers. However, any amount over $10,000, however federal law requires travelers to report to CBP any amount exceeding $10,000 in US dollars or the equivalent in foreign currency. When the funds over $10,000 are not reported or are under-reported, CBP may seize the currency and may lead to an arrest.

If you have any questions about what to do BEFORE you travel and are carrying over $10,000, give David Hsu a call, 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.