Worldwide customs seizures

We love showing you how hard Customs Departments around the world are working hard for their countries.

Contraband seizures made by Customs officers are not always of drugs or the like.  They can be of any commodity deemed as prohibited by that particular country. In saying that, we’d like to bring you a few stories of Customs Department’s work from around the world.

1. Rice Smuggling

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The Bureau of Customs in the Philippines seized 437 shipping containers full of rice that arrived into the port of Manila without the proper permits required from the National Food Authority. It was also believed that the rice belonged to a suspected rice smuggler (yup, they do exist!).

2.  Wood log seizures

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92,000 kgs of Honduras Rosewood was seized by Hong Kong Customs late last year. The wood logs arrived into Hong Kong from Mexico (via Guatemala) in four forty foot shipping containers declared as rubber waste. This was the largest case of wood smuggling in the past decade. Honduras rosewood is an endangered species, with this 92,000 kg seizure worth a whopping $3 million.

3.  Smuggled cigarettes

Suffolk Border Force officers in the United Kingdom recently seized 8.5 million cigarettes that arrived in port in a shipping container from Malaysia. Whilst cigarettes are not illegal, smuggling them in containers that are manifested as fabric certainly is.  With criminals attempting to avoid duties – the UK Treasury (alone) misses out on million of dollars in tax a year.

4. Counterfeit handbags

U.S. Customs and Border officers in Savannah seized 198 counterfeit Hermès Birkin handbags.  The shipment arrived into the Port of Savannah from China, marked for an address in Atlanta. The shipment was manifested as polyurethane handbags and were eventually destroyed. Had the bags been genuine they manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of would have been approx US$1,861,200.

Do you know details of another Customs Bust that you think we should know about?  Comment below!