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CBP Leads National Operation Targeting Illicit Pharmaceuticals

Washington — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), through its Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs) is leading the Strategic Threats Operation, a national operation to target, interdict and investigate the importation of counterfeit, unapproved or otherwise illegal pharmaceuticals that pose health and safety risks to American consumers.

“CBP is on the forefront in the battle against these illegal imports,” said Acting Assistant Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “The creation of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise allows us to utilize the knowledge of our specialists to target, identify, and interdict counterfeit imports, while assisting in the facilitation of legitimate shipments.”

Because the importation of substandard, tainted or counterfeit pharmaceutical products violates U.S. laws and regulations and threatens both public safety and the economic well-being of the United States, the Strategic Threats Operation mandates the direction of enforcement efforts against counterfeit and substandard goods.

CBP’s Pharmaceutical, Health and Chemical Center of Excellence and Expertise in New York City has coordinated seizures in several cities for the operation. CEEs bring all of CBP’s trade expertise to bear on a single industry in a strategic location. They are staffed with numerous trade positions using account management principles that are able to authoritatively facilitate trade issues. The CEEs also serve as resources to the broader trade community and to CBP’s U.S. government partners.

Successes:

  • In Los Angeles, CBP coordinated with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents to locate and seize 4,920 suspected counterfeit Viagra tablets; 2,821 suspected counterfeit Cialis tablets; 1,171 suspected counterfeit Levitra tablets; 88 counterfeit Viagra labels for pill bottles; various counterfeit packaging materials relating to Viagra, Cialis and Levitra; various computers and smartphones and $41,080 in U.S. currency. The suspected counterfeit pharmaceuticals seized have an approximate Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $222,800.
  • In another major seizure in Chicago, CBP handed over packages of Cialis to HSI for a controlled delivery. During the course of the investigation other assorted counterfeit medications including injectable steroids, counterfeit Cialis, counterfeit Viagra, hundreds of syringes, numerous unknown prescription medications, and a small amount of U.S. currency were seized. The subject in that case will be charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts.

The Centers of Excellence and Expertise are coordinated from strategic industry locations, but are national programs manned by CBP personnel across the country. The Centers represent CBP’s expanded focus on “Trade in the 21st Century,” transforming customs procedures to align with modern business. By having the Centers focus on industry-specific issues, CBP is able to provide tailored support to unique trading environments.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.


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