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Customs seized 13M counterfeit masks, 177K prohibited test kits last year: report

Customs seized 13M counterfeit masks, 177K prohibited test kits last year: report
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents intercepted counterfeit masks, prohibited test kits and antivirus lanyards last year.

The 12 months from September 2019 to September 2020 saw CBP agents take 13 million counterfeit masks and 177,000 test kits that are not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited a report set for release Thursday

There were also 37,000 antivirus lanyards that were confiscated because they contained a substance that is not allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Along with the lanyards, 38,000 chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine tablets were also taken, since they are banned by the FDA. 

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More than half of the confiscated items originally came from China, with officers taking the items at more than 300 points of entry. 

CBP said these items have seen increased value due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Journal.

“What we are seeing is, no big surprise, a lot of counterfeits rolling through those supply chains,” Brenda Smith, heads of CBP’s Office of Trade, told the newspaper in an interview.

CBP intercepted a shipment of 21 boxes of counterfeit masks that, had they been real, would have been worth more than $65,000, according to the Journal.

The agency confiscated $50 million worth of items last year, compared to only $1.4 million in 2019. 

The report credits this to the agency’s stricter enforcement of laws against goods made with forced labor. This allowed the agency to confiscate items that were made in the Xinjiang region in China due to allegations that China is putting Uighur Muslims in labor camps in that region.

Tomato and cotton, two of the region’s biggest products, were banned after 10 withhold release orders were placed on items believed to be made by Uighur Muslims.