CBP uses electronic tip to bust import fraud
U.S. Customs and Border Protection's trade fraud targeting unit recently uncovered a transshipment scheme to avoid paying antidumping duties on imported steel-wire hangers, according to a statement Wednesday.
Analysts at the CBP unit responded to a complaint filed through e-Allegations, CBP's online trade violation reporting system. The hangers were shipped from China to the United States, sent to Mexico, and then imported back into the United States as products of Mexico.
The e-Allegations filing resulted in the sentencing of a Tijuana, Mexico, businessman to nearly six years in federal prison, and an order to pay more than $3 million in restitution to the U.S. government and forfeiture of more than $4 million in proceeds gained through the illegal transshipment scheme.
CBP's targeting unit, which specializes in the detection of evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty laws, identified the transshipment scheme in December 2009 after analyzing a commercial allegation. Analysts pursued the lead, piecing together information about a Mexican manufacturer who appeared to be involved in the alleged illegal scheme.
CBP targeting analysts requested enforcement action by the port of Otay Mesa on the California border. Port officials and CBP import specialists then worked with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Justice Department to build the case for prosecution.
The 55-count indictment in the Southern District of California was for violations of 18 USC 371 (conspiracy), 18 USC 542 (entry of goods by means of false statements), 18 USC 1001 (false statements), 18 USC 1343 (wire fraud), and 18 USC 1956 (money laundering).
More information on this case can be found here and here.