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CBP Stops Illicit Goods From China
by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Public Affairs
September 27, 2020

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on September 23, 2020 that Operation Mega Flex has yielded more than 4,200 seizures of illicit goods and 2,400 agriculture violations over the past 15 months.

The seizures included counterfeit goods, illegal narcotics, fake identity documents, prohibited plant and animal products, and other items that threaten the health and safety of consumers, undermine the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, and put U.S. agriculture and the environment at risk.

CBP personnel have seized numerous shipments of unapproved pills from China that claim to treat COVID-19
Unapproved pills seized by CBP in Indianapolis during Mega Flex. (Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

Operation Mega Flex is a CBP-led, interagency effort that was initiated in July 2019 to measure compliance and assess illicit networks in the international mail environment through periodic enhanced inspections. The ongoing operation is part of the Trump Administration’s commitment to protecting U.S. businesses and consumers from unfair Chinese trade practices. CBP conducts Mega Flex operations at international mail facilities and express consignment hubs nationwide in close coordination with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The explosive growth of e-commerce has generated a substantial increase in international mail and express consignment shipments. Foreign sellers, particularly those in China, are exploiting this trend to ship counterfeit and other illicit goods into the United States and to commit other trade violations.

“The Trump Administration and CBP are strongly committed to putting an end to both the Made in China contraband inundating America through small parcels and the role that e-commerce platforms are playing in facilitating such illegal trafficking,” said Dr. Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. “If e-commerce platforms like Alibaba, Amazon, and eBay fail to increase their scrutiny of China’s contraband trafficking and continue to refuse to accept their full and fair share of policing this dangerous problem, they will be held accountable. American lives and livelihoods are both at stake, and the Trump Administration and CBP will continue to do everything necessary to protect both.”

“Every day, hundreds of thousands of parcels arrive from China through the international mail, many of which contain illegitimate goods that threaten our economic security and the health and safety of American consumers,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan. “Through Operation Mega Flex, CBP is taking decisive action to address unfair trade practices and stopping dangerous goods from entering the United States.”

Weapons suppressors seized by CBP in Miami as part of Operation Mega Flex
Firearm suppressors seized by CBP in Miami during Mega Flex. (Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

On average CBP processes more than 420,000 parcels of mail and 180,000 express consignment shipments from China each day. Through Operation Mega Flex, CBP has found that approximately 12.5% of targeted parcels contain counterfeit goods or contraband:

  • In September 2020, CBP Officers in Memphis seized more than a kilogram of a white, powdery substance manifested as “Silicon Dioxide” in a shipment from China. After laboratory testing, CBP determined the substance to be Xylazine, a horse tranquilizer that is sometimes used to cut heroin and fentanyl.
  • In September 2020, CBP Officers at the International Mail Facility in Miami seized two illegal firearm suppressers in a parcel from China. Defense articles cannot be imported into the United States from China under U.S. law.
  • On a single day in August 2020, CBP Officers at the International Mail Facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport made 130 intellectual property rights seizures - including handbags, footwear, purses and watches. Counterfeit goods are sold at low prices to undermine legitimate U.S. businesses and multiply the illegal profits of smugglers and traffickers. 
  • In June 2020, CBP Officers in Indianapolis seized more than 12,000 counterfeit pharmaceutical pills from China. Counterfeit medicines can harm or even kill American consumers.

CBP urges consumers nationwide to exercise diligence when making online purchases or otherwise ordering products through the international mail. The illicit and potentially dangerous goods seized in Operation Mega Flex have been destined for locations throughout the United States, including Castle Rock, Colorado; Grandview, Missouri; Palm Harbor, Florida; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Suspected counterfeit footwear seized by CBP at the JFK International Mail Facility as part of Operation Mega Flex
Suspected counterfeit footwear seized by CBP at the JFK International Mail Facility during Operation Mega Flex. (Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

“Whether purchased online or in stores, counterfeit and illicit products threaten the security and prosperity of Americans throughout the country,” said William A. Ferrara, CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Field Operations. “The dedicated men and women of CBP will continue to use all available means to protect Americans and our businesses from dangerous goods.”

If you have any suspicion of or information regarding suspected fraud or illegal trade activity, please report the information to the e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection | U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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