CBP Stops Invasive Insect at Detroit Airport.

Khapra Beetle

Screenshot of CBP website photo of the Khapra Beetle. Credit: CBP

According to a CBP news release on July 5th, CBP Agricultural Specialists officers in Detroit inspected a traveler from Iraq. The traveler was bringing in seeds to grow in her garden, however the Agricultural Specialists found the seeds were infested with Khapra Beetles.

According to the CBP site, the Khapra Beetle is “considered to be one of the world’s most destructive pests of stored grain products and seeds. This small but persistent insect has a wide-ranging appetite and can spoil anything from stored corn to pasta. It also very difficult to control because it can survive without food for long periods and can resist many insecticides.”

CBP Agriculture Specialists are the unsung heroes who work around the clock at the hundreds of ports of entry by sea, land and air to stop pests from causing harm to our country.

CBP and Otter Products form partnership to prevent importation of counterfeit phone cases.

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On June 27th, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced a partnership with Otter Products, makers of the OtterBox and Lifeproof brand phone cases. OtterBox will provide phone cases to CBP under the “Donations Acceptance Program” (DAP) previously discussed on my blog here.

The donated cell phone cases will be for CBP’s use in verifying and comparing the authenticity of suspected counterfeit items.

The Donations Acceptance Program allows CBP to accept donations of real and personal property, money and non-personal services from the public and private sector entities in support of CBP operations. Authorized uses for donations include entry construction, alterations, operations and maintenance activities. More information can be found at: www.CBP.gov/DAP.

Not sure why someone would want to purchase OtterBox or OtterBox counterfeits – other cell phone case brands such as “Spigen”, “Caseology” and “Sup Case” make highly rated cases that are sold on Amazon and offer the same protection as an Otterbox.

CBP seizes $10 million in counterfeit luxury watches.

classic design elegant fashion

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This past Thursday (June 28th), Philadelphia U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized 699 luxury watches with a MSRP of nearly $10 million (if authentic).

The shipment was from Hong Kong, China and labeled as “lithium batteries”. Upon inspection, CBP officers found watches bearing luxury watch names such as: Tous, Hublot, Piguet, Panerai, and Fossil among others.

CBP probably questioned the shipment as luxury watches that are authentic are usually not sent from Hong Kong. In the media release, CBP officers also claimed the watch quality and packaging was poor – a typical dead give away for counterfeit goods.

If you have had any good seized by CBP on suspicion of being counterfeit, there are things we can do – call David Hsu, experienced trade and customs attorney for a free consultation and the next steps: 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CBP seizes counterfeit mermaid and fashion dolls.

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As reported by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media relations office – CBP agents at the International Falls Port of Entry in Minnesota inspected a rail container and found merchandise that violated intellectual property rights (IPR) regulations.

As you are aware, CBP enforces the intellectual property rights and trademark rights of companies that register their mark with CBP. When goods are suspected of violating IPR – CBP will send photos or a sample to the property rights holder for verification. More often than not, the rights holder will notify CBP that the goods are counterfeit.

Specifically, CBP seized 60,180 mermaid and fashion dolls that contained copyright protected markings. If protected markings are found, even on a small doll accessory or only one doll, CBP will seize items as they had in this case. CBP calculates the seizure value based on the total MSRP if the items were authentic. Here, CBP in Minnesota claims the seized goods total approximately $601,198.

While the CBP media release doesn’t specifically mention the brand name, based on 60,180 dolls having a combined value of $601,198 and based on my experience as a parent to a daughter who loves Barbie – the seized dolls are counterfeit of the standard grocery store Barbie doll for about $10.

So what happens after a seizure? CBP will seize the goods and give the importer of record several options. CBP may also access civil penalties to the IOR.

If you or anyone you know has had items seized by CBP for IPR violations, or if you have any trade and customs law questions – contact experienced customs attorney, David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

 

Customs agent charged with falsifying ship inspection records.

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According to the Virginian-Pilot, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agricultural specialist agent was charged with falsifying ship inspection forms on three separate occasions since 2015.

A CBP agricultural specialist is tasked with checking containers and trucks for agricultural or packaging materials that might contain invasive pests and also check wood packaging materials for larvae or inspects that could impact the native trees and nursery. In short, an agricultural specialist will make sure wood packaging materials, fruits and vegetables arrive into the US pest-free.

According to an indictment filed in the case, former-agent, Carl James Jr. falsified ship inspection forms on two ships: the CMA CGM Dalila and the OOCL Chongqing and one bulk carrier ship – the Pontovremon.

James’ set to appear in court on July 13th.

If you or anyone you know has had their shipment detained due to pests or invasive species found in wood packaging materials, or you have received an Emergency Action Notice (EAN) from Customs or you have had a seizure due to a failed agricultural inspection – contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

FDA issues new warning on Kratom – May 22, 2018.

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U.S. Food & Drug Administration Logo, credit: FDA.gov

On May 22, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new warning (full text here) for three marketers and distributors of kratom products:

1. Front Range Kratom of Aurora, Colorado;
2. Kratom Spot of Irvine, California and
3. Revibe, Inc., of Kansas City, Missouri.

The FDA claims the above distributors and others like them are illegally selling unapproved kratom-containing drug products with unproven claims about their ability to help in the treatment of opioid addiction and withdrawal.

The FDA cited the companies claims that kratom also treats pain, lowers blood pressure, treats cancer and reduces the damage caused by strokes.

As you are aware, all medical claims from a food or drug product must be approved by the FDA. The FDA position is that kratom as an “opioid analogue” that may contribute to the opioid epidemic instead of treating the addiction.

The FDA warning reiterated FDA”s position that Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) use expose users to a risk of addiction, abuse and dependence by affecting the same opioid brain receptors as morphine. At the moment there are no FDA-approved uses for kratom.

Benefits of kratom?
Commonly argued benefits of kratom include: helping end drug addiction, ability to lower blood pressure, relieve pain, boost metabolism, increase sexual energy, improve the immune system, prevent diabetes, ease anxiety, eliminate stress, and induce healthy sleep. It is believed that kratom also reduces the opiate withdraw effects allowing those addicted to other opioids an opportunity to quit. The list of kratom benefits also include relieving headaches, vascular pain, arthritic pain and muscle pain?

FDA-Approval soon?
A check on the FDA site shows no indicating kratom/mitragyna speciosa will be approved anytime soon or even in the near future. Some argue FDA-approval doesn’t legitimize a drug as evidenced by the multitude of mass tort pharmaceutical lawsuits over dangerous drugs (trasylol, accutane, actos, depakote, hydroxycut, etc).

How does this FDA release impact imports of kratom?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces the laws of all the US government agencies (FDA, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, etc). This new FDA warning and others before it mean that imports of kratom may be subject to detainment and seizure if the imports of kratom contain non FDA-approved statements concerning the benefits of kratom. Officially, kratom is still being imported into the US with sporadic reports of seized kratom shipments.

More questions?
If you have any questions about the importation of kratom or a seizure related to kratom, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu by text/phone at 832-896-6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) program in effect starting June 12, 2018.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration  (TSA) announced that the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) program went into effect on June 12, 2018. The ACAS program requires submitting in advance air cargo information on shipments arriving in the US from a foreign location.

Starting today, the program is now mandatory for all airlines flying to the United States and requires submitting pre-arrival air cargo data to CBP prior to landing or transiting through the United States. The new ACAS program is a joint effort between the CBP and TSA to screen high volumes of cargo and to identify high-risk cargo and minimize risks.

The interim final rule can be found here on the Federal Register.

If you have any questions about ACAS program compliance, please contact David Hsu anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

US Customs seizes family’s life savings.

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As has been widely reported in the news, an immigrant family in Ohio had Customs seize $58,100 of their money, an amount described as the family’s life savings.

Rustem Kazazi was headed to Albania when Customs and Border Protection stopped them at the airport and seized their cash. The cash was separated into three stacks ranging from $19,000 to $20,000 per stack.

The family is now suing CBP because they claim CBP used civil forfeiture laws to take the money without an arrest being made or charges against anyone.

Kazazi planned to spend six months in Albania and the funds were earmarked for a vacation home along the Adriatic Cost and to help extended family. The cash was also to pay living expenses while they spent 6 months back in Albania.

Will be following this and the other currency seizure involving the Texas nurse and post updates on the cases as they progress.

I’m surprised the currency was seized in Cleveland as he was supposed to take a flight to Newark, NJ before leaving from there to Albania. The currency reporting requirements are for reporting currency and or monetary instruments over $10,000 upon entering and or leaving the country. It seems in this instant case that Kazazi wasn’t leaving the country when they seized his currency, his next flight was from Ohio to Newark and then to Albania.

If you or someone you know has had a currency seizure and has any questions – contact experienced currency seizure attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 at anytime or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.comm 

CBP seizes $3 million in counterfeit jewelry and watches.

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In the second major seizure for the month of May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Philadelphia seized 64 pieces on April 3rd from a shipment coming from Hong Kong. If authentic, this seizure and a prior March seizure result in a combined manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of over $3 million.

The packaging indicated the shipment contained bangles and arrived from Hong Kong. With the large amounts of shipments from overseas, CBP is unable to inspect every package – instead will focus on inspecting shipments sent from places known to counterfeit items. Upon inspection of these bangles, CBP also found the counterfeit jewelry would be in packaging of poor quality.

This time, CBP officers found the package containing bracelets, earrings and rings bearing the Cartier and Tiffany brands.

If you or anyone you know has had their shipment seized by Customs, contact experienced Customs seizure attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com. Customs will seek civil and sometimes criminal penalties for importers that violate intellectual property rights – call today.

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 .