Tag: houston

CBP Seizes Fake Apparel Worth $48K from Arriving Traveler

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a large amount of counterfeit clothing from a traveler that was arriving from El Salvador. I guess this puts to rest my belief that it is a rare occurrence when when Customs encounters somebody who is travelling from overseas with this large of an amount of counterfeit clothing.

Typically, counterfeit importations are just subject to seizure. In other words, the ‘penalty’ is loss of the goods through government seizure and forfeiture. However, Customs can impose monetary penalties under 19 USC 1526(f) on “any person who directs, assists … aids and abets [in] the importation of merchandise for sale or public distribution” once the property is seized.

Customs may presume that the large quantities means that is must have been intended for sale or public distribution. Thus, this person may have exposed himself to a monetary penalty equal to the MSRP of the seized goods as if they were real. It could be that it was meant for public sale or distribution, or it could just be that all these articles were intended for personal use and the buyer just could not stop himself from getting a good deal. Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized counterfeit Gucci, Burberry, Lacoste, Versace, Armani, Ferrari, Coco Chanel, Tory Burch and Michael Kors merchandise, May 13,

Counterfeit Clothing Seized by CBP

valued at more than $48,000.

The seized items included shirts, hats, shoes, purses and jewelry destined for Houston.

CBP officers conducted an inspection of a passenger arriving from El Salvador with checked bags. During the inspection, they discovered 161 brand-named articles that appeared to be counterfeit. The items did not appear to be of the quality consistent with legitimate goods as the items included unusual labeling and the markings on the clothing were not manufactured by the trademark holders.

Counterfeit Chanel Jewelry

“Packing hundreds of phony articles in suitcases doesn’t release passengers from their obligation to adhere to U.S. import laws and requirements,” said Houston CBP Port Director Charles Perez. “This seizure protects the trademark holder, their businesses and their employees and denies criminal organizations from reaping profits from the sale of counterfeit and illegitimate consumer goods.”

Counterfeit Chanel jewelry was among the seized items. Watches and jewelry topped the list of seized items sorted by value in fiscal year 2014.

CBP officers obtained digital images of the merchandise and forwarded them to the trademark owner to determine their authenticity. After verifying that the merchandise was counterfeit, CBP seized every item for infringement of intellectual property rights.

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 $38 Million so far in FY 2015; $15k from Nigerian Traveler

In the story below, CBP officers in Houston seized more than $15,000 from a Nigerian traveler at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport who was leaving the country for Nigeria. The story gives us some new interesting figures; so far for this fiscal year Customs has seized nearly $38 million from people all across the nation. Last year they seized a total of $81 million, or $650,000 per day. That’s a lot of cash!

Now the story itself is unremarkable so I’m not sure why it merited a “news release” from Customs. This is the typical situation where we represent our currency seizure clients; when they make an inaccurate report to Customs. Here’s the text:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized $15,841 from a traveler flying to Nigeria.

The 38-year old Nigerian man was waiting to board a flight to Lagos, Nigeria when CBP officers asked him if he was transporting more than $10,000 in monetary instruments. The traveler declared carrying $6,400 of his own and another $4,400 for a friend.

CBP officers advised the traveler that currency reporting requirements for anyone arriving and departing the U.S. must be declared on CBP Form 503 and the declaration must include all currency. The traveler was allowed to complete the CBP Seizure of $15krequired form but when officers verified the amount of currency, an additional $5041 and about $74 in Nigerian currency were discovered in the traveler’s backpack.

CBP officers found a total of $15,841 in U.S. currency which was seized for attempting to export currency exceeding $10,000 without filing a report. The Nigerian currency was returned to the traveler for humanitarian purposes as he was flying into that country.

“There is absolutely no limit to the amount of currency a traveler can bring into or take out of the United States,” said Houston CBP Port Director Charles Perez. “The only requirement is to declare amounts that reach or exceed $10,000.”

From Oct. 1, 2014 through Mar. 30, 2015, CBP officers nationwide seized nearly $38 million.Last fiscal year, officers averaged $650,117 in undeclared or illicit currency seizures per day totaling more than $81 million, nationwide.

Travelers can avoid seizure by declaring currency when the amount reaches $10,000. International travelers carrying more than $10,000 into or out of the United States must report the amount they are transporting or risk the currency’s seizure.

Currency declarations are made by completing FinCEN Form 105 and giving it to a CBP officer. Currency is not limited to U.S. currency but all negotiable monetary instruments including Traveler’s Checks, money orders and securities. A complete list of negotiable monetary instruments is available on FinCEN Form 105.

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or 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 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

Chinese Honey Seized in Houston for Antidumping Duty Evasion

We previously wrote about the dangers of not knowing your supply chain, conducting due diligence, and how inadvertently buying goods you have no idea are subjecting to antidumping duties could get you into a mess of trouble and commercial penalties under 19 USC 1592.

At Channel 6 News in Houston, via the Associated Press, is an interesting story about antidumping duty evasion on honey that originates from China but was made it’s way through Latvia, Mexico, and ultimately, through the Port of Houston at the U.S. Border.  Here is the interest party of the story, and it has to do with befuddlement at why Houston has become the focal point of illegal Chinese honey imports into the U.S.:

Before the latest seizures, federal agents disrupted a network of honey importers who managed to evade $180 million in antidumping duties, which are penalties placed on imports that are priced at less than fair value. The penalty is imposed top provide relief to domestic industries that may be hurt by the low import values.

According to Richard Halverson, with Homeland Security’s Houston investigations unit, the city has become a focal point for illegal honey imports, but officials are not sure why.

You can read the rest HERE. Usually people smuggle drugs, money, gold, jewelry, and other things we consider valuable. Honey is not in that category. But, the smuggling here dealt with avoiding paying extra duties. That gets the product in cheaper than competition. But how much duty savings is your freedom, or non-liability for 592 penalties worth?

If you need help conducting due diligence, or face duty or penalty liability with customs you should contact our office by e-mail or call (734) 855-4999. We are experienced in defending customs 592 penalties, disclosing potential violations through prior disclosures, responding to notices of penalties, and preparing detailed and well argued petitions for mitigation of penalties or liquidated damages. You can also make use of our other articles, such as:

Customs 592 penalties articles: