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.
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.