Tag: seizure

CBP at JFK Seizes Cocaine in Beef Patties

We have our first stupid smuggling attempt of 2017. In a story similar to one we blogged about 3 years ago where CBP at JFK Seized Cocaine in Meat, another traveler thought it would be a good idea to hide some cocaine in some beef patties from Jamaica. I again explain: it is basically impossible to import meat into the United States without getting advance permission from either the FDA, USDA, or both.

In other words, the smuggler tried to hide something illegal in something that was illegal. If you’re going to have any chance at success in smuggling, you would need to hide something illegal in something legal.

You should not hide something illegal in something illegal, and moreover, something that a dog is going to naturally gravitate toward, like meat.

Here is the full story:

JAMAICA, N.Y. — A traveler had more than a snack in her suitcase when she arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.  Fortunately, U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers were there to stop her in her tracks.

On January 17, CBP officers intercepted passenger Ms. Chantal Alecia Bedward, a citizen of Jamaica, arriving from Kingston, Jamaica.  During her examination, CBP officers discovered what appeared to be a box of Tastee Brand, Jamaican Beef Patties.  CBP officers escorted Ms. Bedward to a private search room where the box of beef patties was opened revealing 12 duct-taped packages.  The packages were probed producing a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.

Ms. Bedward was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  The approximate gross weight of cocaine seized was 4 lbs.

An image of 11 counterfeit championship rings that were seized by Detroit U.S. Customs & Border Protection at Detroit Metropolitan airport.

Detroit CBP Seizes $680k in Counterfeit Championship Rings

CBP at Detroit Metro Airport seized $680,000 worth of counterfeit championship rings that were being imported into the United States from China. This counterfeit seizure by happened in April, but it is just now making the news.

That’s probably because the story finally made it from FP&F to CBP’s press department, or because the notice of seizure was finally mailed after a final determination by CBP that the rings were actually counterfeit. A valuation of $680,000 means that Customs is putting an MSRP value on each ring of $5,000.

Recall that each time you cause an importation of a counterfeit item into the United States it subject to seizure and you are subject to a penalty, as the importer, for up to the value of the goods if they were real. You can read more about that in our other articles on that topic: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2  (click to read).

The use of a fictitious name by the importer opens the importer up to additional liability beyond merely violation 19 USC 1526(e) (importing counterfeits), by charges involving fraud. Not a smart move. Here’s the story:

DETROIT— In late April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $680,000 (MSRP) in counterfeit NHL, NFL and MLB championship rings in a shipment that originated on a flight from China.

While conducting operations at a DHL consignment facility, the Cargo Enforcement Team selected and examined a shipment of rings from China, resulting in the discovery of 136 counterfeit championship rings from the National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. In all, the counterfeit rings displayed the names and logos of several teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, and New York Jets. The shipment also included rings for the Chicago Black Hawks and the Boston Red Sox.

The company identified as the receiver of the rings used a fictitious name and was found to have previous copyright/trademark violations.

Have you had allegedly counterfeit merchandise seized by CBP in Detroit?

Not only do you have rights to contest the determination that the merchandise was counterfeit (like getting a sample of seized merchandise), but if you’ve been penalized we are very successful in getting penalties reduced or eliminated entirely. Click the contact button on this page to get in touch with us today!

PHL Fake Traveler's Check Seized by CBP in Philadelphia en route to Chicago

CBP Seizes Counterfeit Checks for Chicago

CBP in Philadelphia seized counterfeit traveler’s checks with a face value of $33,000 on May 25th, which were destined for an address in Chicago. The seizure occured at a sorting facility near the Philadelphia International Airport. Here’s part of the story from CBP:

CBP officers inspected the parcel, which arrived from Nigeria and was manifested as documents, and discovered 67 separate $500 MasterCard travelers checks. Upon closer inspection, CBP officers discovered that none of the alleged security features were visible on the checks. CBP officers seized the parcel, which was destined to an address in Chicago.

The story closes by saying that on a typical day CBP seizes more than $350,000 in cash from throughout the country. Here, the negotiable instruments were not part of a failure to declare (although calling them “documents” certain is not a full declaration for customs purposes), but rather were seized because they were counterfeit and also very likely connected to other criminal activity (scamming).

A twist on this story I’ve heard recently is scammers offering to send millions of dollars of cash into the United States, rather than traveler’s checks. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I do not always know how these scam stories end or what the story is behind the scam (that is, why they’re offering to send cash or traveler’s checks, if it’s counterfeit, etc.), but the old say that if something is too good to be true, it probably is, has helped many people avoid being scammed by these counterfeit check/money situations.

Anyone involved in these types of transactions, whether knowingly or unknowingly, opens themselves up to both criminal and civil liability. Don’t get yourself in trouble.

We recently wrote about “millions” of dollars of “hell” counterfeit money that was seized after arriving travelers, not imported through a commercial shipment, as here.

CBP Seizes Hazardous (Lead) Toys in San Juan

We previously explained the risks that come with importing merchandise into the United States; how it can result in seizure, monetary penalties, and some strategies can use to defend itself against those penalties.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of San Juan recently seized hazardous toys in four different shipments which arrived between August and September, 2015, with a combined estimated domestic retail value of over $100K.  The toys were found to contain hazardous substances that could represent a risk for children.

Toys that were seized after CPSC laboratory analysis determined that they contained lead.
Toys were seized in October 2015, after CPSC laboratory analysis determined that they contained lead.

Working closely with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) compliance investigators, CBP officials detained several shipments of toys from China on 4 separate incidents between the months of August and September of 2015.  All of the toys were seized in October 2015, after CPSC laboratory analysis determined that they contained lead in excess of the limit which may be harmful to the health and safety of children.

Children’s products, including toys, which are designed or intended primarily for use by children 12 years of age or younger, must not contain a concentration of lead greater than 0.009 percent (90 parts per million) in paint or any similar surface coatings.

“Import safety is a priority trade issue for CBP,” stated Edward Ryan, San Juan Assistant Director of Field Operations in the area of Trade.  “Our agency works with CPSC as well as nearly 50 other government agencies to enforce U.S. import regulations and to stop unsafe and illicit goods from entering the country.”

Importing hazardous items into the United States is a very serious matter. First, it is very likely that after seizure the property will be forfeited and destroyed by the U.S. government. Once forfeiture is complete, the person who caused the importation may get a notice of penalty or liquidated damages from U.S. Custom & Border Protection for importations contrary to law.

The importer will have a chance to respond to customs’ notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to reduce the penalty based on the presence of certain mitigating factors that customs particularly looks for. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely. If the person fails to pay the penalty, the government can bring a lawsuit in federal district court to recover the penalty in the form of a judgment, after which point the government can lien property, garnish bank accounts, and seize property.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs seizures nationwide.

Florida CBP Seizes Counterfeit Sunglasses

Customs seized counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses fairly recently. According to the story itself, the sunglasses could have been seized not only because they were counterfeits, but also because the import documents falsely identified them as being something else. That’s called smuggling, among other things. This importer is in for a big penalty, equivalent to the MSRP of the counterfeit goods as if they were genuine. Here is an excerpt of the full story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Tampa seized over 860 counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses arriving in a shipment from China on July 13. Had the goods been genuine, the designer handbags [sic] would have an estimated Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $123,455.

US Customs seizure of $123,455 in counterfeit sunglasses.
US Customs seized $123,455 in counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses.

CBP’s highly trained officers successfully targeted and intercepted the U.S.-bound air cargo. The description for the freight was also concealed under a different commodity.

Initially, CBP officers suspected the sunglasses to be counterfeit since they did not appear to be of the quality consistent with the products normally manufactured by the trademark holder. CBP import specialists examined samples and determined the items to be counterfeit.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

Information on currency and monetary instrument seizure by Customs

CBP took cash over $10,000? Read here to help you along the way.
Money seized by customs? CBP took cash over $10,000? Read here to help you along the way.

We get many calls from people across the country who, either having just crossed a land border or cleared Customs at an airport, have money or its equivalent seized by U.S. Customs and
Border Protection for failure to report amounts over $10,000, or for stating an inaccurate amount being transported. In this series of blog posts, I will answering some of the most frequently asked questions about currency seizures, reporting requirements, and the process we use for getting your seized money back from Customs.

Did you have your money seized by Customs?

This experience with Customs is usually a traumatic one for most people, not only because a big chunk of your savings is suddenly gone, but also because Customs often detains a suspect for hours while separating you from your traveling companions and interrogating each of you about the source and purpose of the money. They will make you feel like the worst of criminals.

“Why does Customs seize the money if I’ve done nothing wrong?”

In most cases, Customs usually seizes money because of a violation of the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act (although certain situations might give rise to allegations of failure to declare or some type of smuggling, such as bulk cash smuggling). Specifically, 31 USC  § 5316 and 5317, a part of the Federal law, as well as Federal Regulations, give Customs the authority to seize your cash, currency, or things like checks, promissory notes, traveler’s checks, money orders, and certain securities and stocks if you fail to report or misreport amounts in excess of $10,000. The law requires that this report be made so they can more easily detect money laundering and other financial crimes.

Why most people have their money seized

People fail to report, or misreport currency and monetary instruments for a variety of reasons. It can be mistrust of government agents (usually foreign born people who grew up under very corrupt governments), lack of knowledge of the presence of money, not knowing exactly how much cash you have, a language barrier, confusion about whether non U.S. currency must be reported, how the law applies to more than one person, or good old-fashioned panic.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

 

U.S. Customs Seize $541,000 in Unsafe Consumer Products

When importing into the United States an importer must make sure to comply with the customs laws for classification, valuation, invoicing, etc. But they also must make sure that they’re products are not harmful or in violations of the myriad of other regulations enforced by CBP at the border; whether they be FDA, Department of Agriculture, or the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Recently, customs seized over half a million dollars in unsafe consumer products in a joint effort with the French government.

The story below:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and French Customs General Directorate announce the results of Operation Bathe and Beaute, a bilateral Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement operation targeting counterfeit personal care products and electric personal care devices. The joint operation, conducted from April 8 through May 4, resulted in the seizure of 76 shipments of more than 31,000 counterfeit items for a combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $541,000.

“Operation Bathe and Beaute reflects our ongoing efforts to interdict illegal trade in counterfeit merchandise, which threatens the competitiveness of legitimate businesses and can jeopardize consumer health and safety,” said Assistant Commissioner Brenda Smith of CBP’s Office of International Trade.

Box of counterfeit items valued at suggested MSRP of $541,000.
76 shipments of more than 31,000 counterfeit items for a combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $541,000.

“After the successful Core Systems operation in late 2013, this fourth joint operation between CBP and French Customs demonstrates once again how important it is to exchange information and act together to fight organized crime in a global world,” said François Richard, French Customs Attaché.

The four week operation focused on personal care products and devices that potentially introduce dangerous chemicals and bacteria to the skin and eyes or burning or electrocution due to non-standardized wiring and ineffectual family planning protection to the consumer. Products seized during this event included make-up, condoms, hair removal devices, contact lenses, hair curlers, straighteners and skin cleansing devices.

 

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

CBP Seizes Counterfeit Watches with $2.7M MSRP

Customs reported a seizure of over 11,000 counterfeit watches which, if real, would have a manufacturer’s suggest retail price of $2,791,250. The same law that permits Customs to seize the counterfeit watches also allows CBP to impose a penalty of up to the MSRP value of the counterfeit watches. In this case, that means the importer of these watches will be subject to a penalty of nearly $2.8 million dollars.

MIAMI – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers with the Miami Seaport Trade Enforcement Team (TET) seized 11,165 counterfeit watches with an MSRP value of $2,791,250.

Counterfeit watches with an MSRP value of $2,791,250.
CBP seized 11,165 counterfeit watches with an MSRP value of $2,791,250.

The watches were being shipped from China and destined for Florida. CBP OFO officers discovered the watches in 123 cartons arriving in a shipment from China.

CBP OFO officers with the Trade Enforcement Team (TET) suspected the watches were counterfeit as the items did not appear to be of the quality consistent with the watches that are normally manufactured by the trademark holder.

Samples were submitted to CBP Import Specialists for review and determined to be counterfeit.

“Counterfeiters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their efforts and CBP OFO officers here at the Miami Seaport take great pride in protecting Americans from low quality and unsafe products,” said Miami Seaport Port Director Diane Sabatino. “Our CBP officers consistently demonstrate their exceptional skills at identifying counterfeit goods and work well with CBP Import Specialists to protect consumers and ensure these products do not enter the commerce of the United States.”

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

CBP Seizes Alleged Counterfeit Auto Parts in Florida

Here’s one of those seldom thought about counterfeit merchandise seizures: counterfeit autoparts. When you think about counterfeits you usually think about currency, clothing, watches, and things like that. You don’t typically think of auto parts being something is counterfeited. But apparently they are out there, and it happens a lot, and its dangerous. Here’s the story from Customs (full version here):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and import specialists seized more than 3,260 counterfeit automobile parts during an inspection at Port Everglades on May 8. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the counterfeit products is around $280,000.

CBP, along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), targeted the shipment as part of a joint multi-layered enforcement operation focused on interdicting illegal counterfeit automotive parts.

The seizure included over 180 different types of vehicle parts ranging from small fuses to front ends.

Counterfeit automotive parts are a safety risk as they are of inferior quality compared to the authentic product and their failure to perform to standard could cause safety issues resulting in catastrophic failure.

 

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

CBP Seizes $1.2B in counterfeits in FY 2014

In addition to currency seizures and drug seizures, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seizes counterfeit merchandise imported into the United States. CBP considers counterfeit interception to be a priority trade issue. Customs has released their annual statistics for 2014 wherein they breakdown what they seized throughout the past fiscal year. The report includes the total volume of seizures, value, and countries from which the counterfeit goods were exported. The summary from Customs is repeated below:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) today announced the fiscal year 2014 results of an aggressive enforcement program to protect the United States from counterfeit and pirated goods. CBP and HSI are the components within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).

“Protecting intellectual property rights is a critical part of CBP’s trade enforcement mission and critical to protecting American consumers,” said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “In 2014, strong partnerships with our federal enforcement counterparts, effective targeting of high risk shipments and frontline interceptions of cargo at America’s ports of entry produced more than 23,000 seizures of fake products worth an estimated $1.2 billion that could have cheated or threatened the health of American consumers.

[ . . . ]

In fiscal year 2014, there were 23,140 intellectual property rights seizures with an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price or MSRP of $1.2 billion, the value of the goods had they been genuine.  In addition, 144 shipments of circumvention devices were seized for violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  CBP also enforced 44 exclusion orders in fiscal year 2014. Since 2007, CBP has identified intellectual property rights enforcement as a priority trade mission. Although IPR seizures declined slightly in 2014 from 2013, CBP recorded its third busiest year for seizures since 2005.

[ . . . ]

Wearing apparel and accessories continue to be the number one commodity classification based on number of seizures with 7,922 seizures or 28 percent.  Watches and jewelry are the largest commodity classification by value with an estimated MSRP of $375 million or 31 percent.

The People’s Republic of China remains the primary source economy for counterfeit and pirated goods seized with a total value of $772 million, representing 63 percent of all IPR seizures by MSRP. Hong Kong ranks second with $310 million or 25 percent.

Tactical interagency collaboration with the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) resulted in 683 arrests, with 454 indictments and 461 convictions.

You might be facing penalties from customs for importing counterfeit merchandise. We can help. Typically, we recommended preparing and filing a petition, with the assistance of legal counsel, which argues persuasively for the substantial mitigation, or when the facts and law warrant it, cancellation of the penalty in full.

Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely (some history of our success is HERE).If you have had merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations and/or have a received a notice of penalty for importing alleged counterfeits or for making an importation contrary to law, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs penalties and seizures around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles: