CBP Fines Agricultural Products Smugglers $98,000

When you heard that someone is a smuggler, or that they’ve smuggled something you typically think of smuggling drugs or other nefarious types of products. Most people don’t realize smuggling is essentially just another word for concealing. Concealing can be accomplished by outfitting a vehicle or container to hide products, by hiding illicit product with legitimate products in the same shipment, or by falsely declaring the contents of a shipment on an invoice or manifest.

In the story we quote below, the “shippers and freight forwarders employ[ed] fictitious shipper names and addresses, and provide[d] unrelated cargo descriptions” in an effort to smuggle the goods into the country. The goods were prohibited agricultural goods that contained unsafe foods or a risk of harboring invasive insect species. CBP takes this very seriously in the wake of the destructive effects posed by species that arrived in the United States via importation, like the Emerald ash border (see our article on Regulated Wood Packaging Violations)

In the story, U.S. Customs & Border Protection Agriculture Specialists conducted a special operation to “interrupt an extensive network of purposely mislabeled and high risk agriculture products coming from Hong Kong, China, India, and Saudi Arabia that were “en route to various locations throughout the United States, including ethnic restaurants, food stores, and private residences.”

From the story, which you can read in full HERE, that the purchases were largely made by consumers over the Internet.

Various concealment methods were discovered during this operation. CBPAS found meat smuggled in fish packets and tea bags, fruits inside sealed cookie bags, loose and packaged seeds within candy wrappers, and seeds in foil-lined bags in an effort to avoid x-ray detection.

The prohibited contraband included fresh plums and other fresh plant products, eggs, propagative plant materials including invasive species, and fresh and processed poultry and pork products coming from countries with known virulent disease outbreaks such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

In total, this special operation yielded 1,104 inspected shipments, 73 shipments Returned to Origin (RTO), 198 Emergency Action Notifications (EANs), four mis-delivery penalties, and 98 mis-manifesting penalties netting a total of $98,000 in fines. Additionally, CBPAS destroyed over 900 pounds of contraband from 146 shipments and found 10 pest interceptions.

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