Unapproved Juul pods seized by CBP.

Image of seized Juul pods, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protections media release, officers in Indianapolis over 10,000 Juul Pods shipped from Ontario, Canada to New York and New Jersey. The shipments were seized because they were misbranded consumer goods imported by an unauthorized agent.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) governs the importation of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. However, the basis of this seizure was likely under 19 USC 1499(a)(3)(a) unspecified articles and 19 USC 1595(c)(1) merchandise introduced contrary to law because the packages were labeled as an “electrical apparatus”.

If you have had your goods seized and you received a seizure notice alleging violations of 19 USC 1499 and 19 USC 1595, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$450,000 worth of vaping pens from HK seized by US Customs.

Image of seized dragster pens, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at Chicago O’Hare seized 50,000 vaping pens from Hong Kong.

The “dragster Mountain Vape Pens” were seized because they violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) regarding the importation of tobacco products – specifically for being misbranded and for being imported by an unauthorized agent. Typically this means an importer is not authorized to import goods (that may be counterfeit).

According to the Customs media release, Customs believes the shipment was intentionally and improperly mislabeled as “lithium ion batteries” to avoid seizure.

While not reported in the Customs media release – shipments that are mislabeled are typically seized under statute 19USC1499(a)(3)(A), copied below:

(3)Unspecified articles If any package contains any article not specified in the invoice or entry and, in the opinion of the Customs Service, the article was omitted from the invoice or entry—(A) with fraudulent intent on the part of the seller, shipper, owner, agent, importer of record, or entry filer, the contents of the entire package in which such article is found shall be subject to seizure; or

19USC1499(a)(3)(A) is a catch all statute Customs frequently uses to seize any goods that are not included in paperwork. Omissions or mis-representations on the paperwork (regardless of goods being imported) is the easiest way for Customs to seize shipments. If you are in the import business – be sure the exporter is correctly declaring the shipment and are following your import compliance manual and procedures.

If you import and don’t have a compliance manual or procedures – contact me, you need one, 832-896-6288.

Going back to the vape pens – Customs will likely not release these goods as the FDA has increasingly cracked down on the importation of these vape pens and other nicotine delivery systems. The alleged counterfeit nature of the pens and the mislabeling of the shipment will likely mean these vape pens will not be released.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs, contact seizure attorney David Hsu immediately by phone or text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

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

Syringes with unapproved drugs seized by FDA.

Seized syringes: source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release – officers seized a shipment of pre-filled syringes containing 200 Sodium Hyaluronate from Seoul, South Korea. Sodium Hyaluronate is used to treat osteoarthritis and seized for violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) prohibiting the importation of any food, drug, device, tobacco product, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded.

The FDA Office of Criminal Investigation seized the shipment that would be worth $10,666 if authentic. Typical FDA seizures are due to unapproved prescriptions containing manufactured using incorrect or harmful ingredients.

If you have had your shipment seized by Customs for FDA violations, contact seizure attorney David Hsu by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com or anytime by phone/text at 832-896-6288.

$500k of e-cigarettes seized by CBP.

Seized counterfeit pods, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Philadelphia seized 48 shipments of either counterfeit or unapproved e-cigarette pods since June with the 58,538 individual pods worth a combined $500,000 if authentic or if approved for sale.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the importation of tobacco products imported into the US and all products must comply with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) along with the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

This past April, in response to the increase rise in teenage tobacco usage, the FDA issued new measures to regulate the unauthorized importation of flavored cartridge e-cigarettes. Besides unauthorized goods, the seized products also included counterfeit of brand names such as Pop, Puff, Eonsmoke, etc.

If you have had your good seized by Customs on behalf of the FDA, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288, or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Unauthorized COVID medicine seized.

COVID-19 treatment bills – source: CBP.gov

Since July, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Seattle have seized 8 shipments totaling over 2,400 pills of unauthorized influenza treatments for COVID-19. Working with the FDA, CBP prevents unauthorized medicines that may mislead consumers by falsely claiming to treat or prevent diseases.

If you have had your goods seized by Customs and want to explore your options contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

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.

Counterfeit and unapproved COVID-19 products continue to be seized by CBP.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues to seize many shipments of counterfeit, unapproved or other COVID-19 products of questionable quality.

At the beginning of June 2020, CBP has seized the following COVID-19 related items:

107,300 FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits in 301 incidents;
750,000 counterfeit face masks in 86 incidents;
2,500 EPA-prohibited anti-virus lanyards in 89 incidents; and
11,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets in 91 incidents.

In addition to the risk of using non-FDA approved drugs, CBP claims the sale of counterfeit COVID-19 goods benefit organized crime.

If you have had your shipment seized by Customs, contact seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at anytime to 832-896-6288 or contact us by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Chinese-made COVID-19 treatment drugs seized by Customs.

Lianhua Qingwen Capsules from China, source: CBP.gov

While coverage of the George Floyd dominates the airwaves, many people are still concerned about COVID-19 as evidenced by the continued importation of COVID-19 treatment drugs from China.

Specifically, earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Mississippi seized two shipments containing more than 2,000 “Lianhua Qingwen” capsules and “balangen” granules. These two drugs have been touted as treating COVID-19 symptoms.

Customs has seized multiple shipments of these two named drugs and CBP tests reveal the drugs contain sugar and iron. As these drugs do not have FDA approval, they were seized by CBP and will likely be destroyed. The FDA prohibits importation of food, drug, device, tobacco or cosmetic products that are undeclared, misbranded or misnamed. As a rresult, CBP seized the unapproved drugs as they have not been tested and may cause harm or death to US citizens.

Lainhua Qingwen capsules and granules are sold in China and elsewhere in Asia as treating COVID-19 symptoms.

If you have had a Customs seizure, contact David Hsu 24/7 by phone/text to 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com,

Unauthorized COVID-19 medicine seized.

Seized COVID-19 medicine, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized 360 pills of medicine marketed to treating COVID-19. The medicine was a violation of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules preventing unauthorized medical treatments that may mislead consumers by making false claims to prevent or treat diseases or may in fact harm the consumer.

The FDA is especially concerned with unauthorized COVID-19 treatments that are marketed towards curing, treating or preventing serious illnesses.

If you have had your good seized by Customs, contact seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.