El Paso, TX–Smuggling can be a dirty business even when it involves cleaning supplies.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Bridge of the Americas commercial import facility at the El Paso port of entry, learned this when they encountered a large shipment of what appeared to be cleaning supplies arriving from Mexico on March 16. The products appeared to be tampered with and prohibited for sale in the U.S.
“In the current environment it is reprehensible that someone would attempt a scheme like this to prey upon the concerns and fears of our community, likely for financial gain,” said CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha. “Our officers remain focused and attentive to all threats they may encounter.”
During the inspection, the driver of a box truck presented CBP officers with a manifest showing the shipment included cleaning supplies and toilet paper. CBP officers selected the shipment for inspection and found that it contained 168 boxes of Clorox bleach (127 oz.), 75 boxes of Pinol cleaner (33.81 oz.), 28 boxes of Fabuloso cleaner (169 oz.), 23 boxes of Pinol cleaner (27.99 oz.), 9 boxes of Clorox cleaner (31.44 oz.), and 20 boxes of Adorable brand toilet paper.
During a dock exam of the products inspection, CBP officers and National Guard soldiers noted that many of the bottles had no safety seals and appeared to have been tampered with. Bottles containing bleach also lacked the familiar bleach scent.
Initial field-testing showed that the products contained water. Further CBP laboratory testing indicated that the primary ingredient in many of the items sampled was only water and not what labeling suggested. A representative from the Clorox Company also advised CBP that the Spanish labeled product was not permitted for sale in the U.S. and importation is a violation.
All products were seized pending further investigation.