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Intellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud
12/16/2014

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ICE, CBP seize hazardous Chinese toys for sale in Puerto Rico

HSI San Juan special agents identify counterfeit toys from China that are contaminated with lead paint at a local pharmacy.
Counterfeit toys contaminated with lead paint were seized from a chain of pharmacies in San Juan Friday by HSI special agents.
Left: HSI San Juan special agents identify counterfeit toys from China that are contaminated with lead paint at a local pharmacy. Right: Counterfeit toys contaminated with lead paint were seized from a chain of pharmacies in San Juan Friday by HSI special agents.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Nine stores and a warehouse owned by Farmacias Caridad were the subject of a seizure order executed Friday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for importing hazardous toys from China for sale in Puerto Rico. The investigation was led by HSI in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

According to an affidavit filed in federal court, Farmacias Caridad had children's toys seized by CBP officers from shipping containers entering the United States on five occasions in August and September. Field tests found that the toys had a high presence of lead content. The merchandise was sent to the CPSC laboratory for further testing. These test results indicated excessive lead found in the toys' paint, plastic and cloths. CPSC presented CBP with seizure recommendation letters for the merchandise for failure to comply with CPSC lead content requirements. During the course of the investigation, HSI found that these items were being sold by Farmacias Caridad. The merchandise was seized under the Federal Hazardous Substance Act and Consumer Product Safety regulation.

"The people and companies involved in this illegal trade are placing the lives of innocent children in danger," said Ricardo Mayoral, deputy special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "They allegedly sold toys with high lead content. HSI is firm on using its unique customs expertise and law enforcement partnerships to put an end to the importation and sale of dangerous goods."

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit and hazardous products into the United States. HSI investigations focus not only on keeping counterfeit and hazardous products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.

The HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.

To report intellectual property theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.

Selling hazardous toys is a crime. If you think you may be a victim, report it online to ICE via the HSI Tip Line, or call the Tip Line toll-free at (866) 347-2423. You can also submit an online complaint to the IPR center at www.iprcenter.gov.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/21/2015