Thursday, October 24, 2013

United States Secret Service Seizures of Motor Vehicles Using a 'Straw Buyer"

The United States Secret Service (USSS), along with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), have been seizing motor vehicles for alleged violations of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, customs fraud, and export requirements. The seizures are either made as part of a Court ordered Search or Seizure Warrant or administratively by CBP when the vehicles are presented to CBP as required prior to export. In essence, the Government has generally alleged that either the named buyer of the vehicle from the dealership is not the true owner, or the vehicle is being falsely declared to CBP as a "new" vehicle when it is really a "used" vehicle.

Persons and companies should be aware of these investigations and actions by Federal law enforcement authorities in Los Angeles, New York/New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, New Hampshire, and other locations.

CBP has issued Rulings regarding the requirements for exporting a motor vehicle. See CBP Headquarters Ruling Number HQ H235018 dated February 20, 2013, HQ H228766 dated October 2, 2012,and HQ H204515 dated May 2, 2012. All of these may be found on the CBP website at

A number of attorneys around the United States represent owners of the seized vehicles, and are challenging the Government's actions in numerous Federal courts. It remains to be seen whether the Government's actions will ultimately succeed in forfeiting the vehicles, and related bank accounts, or whether the vehicles and funds in the bank accounts will be returned to their owners. What is certainly true is that the Government is spending a lot of time and money interviewing hundreds of potential witnesses and defendants. Persons such as buyers, exporters, and freight forwarders, who have been approached to be interviewed by Special Agents from USSS, FBI, or HSI are cautioned always to get legal counsel. What is also certainly true is that the actions by the United States Government law enforcement officials are disrupting what for years were considered legitimate business transactions. The obvious result of the Government's recent enforcement activities is that instead of auto dealers in the United States selling cars to be exported to places such as China, the vehicles will instead be shipped to places like China and sold through a dealership there. For all the foreign made vehicles that never touch the United States, for which the auto dealers in the United States never get to sell, and the sales tax is never collected by the State in which the car is sold, it is hard to see a public benefit from the Government's recent activities.

For any questions or comments on this blog post, or questions regarding the rights of owners of seized vehicles or bank accounts, please contact me.

Peter Quinter, Chair
Customs and International Trade Law GroupGrayRobinson law firm

Direct Office Phone (305) 416-6960
Mobile Phone (954) 270-1864

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to Successfully Petition FDA to Remove a Company from an FDA Import Alert List

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the responsibility to stop any adulterated or mislabeled food products from entering the United States. Foreign companies which have attempted to ship to the United States such contaminated products not in compliance with FDA'a laws and regulations are often put on a Import Alert list. Many companies located as close as Mexico and Canada and as far away as China and Australia are on Import Alert lists because of the use of illegal pesticides or other contaminants. Any future shipments of the same product from the same foreign company will be detained without physical examination (DWPE), and not allowed to proceed into the commerce of the United States. To get off any particular Import Alert list, such companies with this problem must prepare and submit a persuasive petition to FDA's Division of Import Operations(DIO)that the problem has been permanently remedied.

Petitions to the DIO of FDA in Rockville, Maryland for the removal of a company from an Import Alert list are usually done through an attorney.

The FDA website has helpful information, especially in its Regulatory Procedures Manual, which provides some guidance on "Removal from Detention Withouth Physical Examination". The important points to keep in mind and help avoid potential delays in the review of a petition is by ensuring the following information has been provided:

1. The following documents should be submitted for each entry you supplied in support of your petition:

US Customs Form 3461 or US Customs Form 7501
Commercial Invoice
Packing List
Bill of Lading

2. In order for FDA to consider removing a firm and/or product from detention without physical examination, FDA must have evidence which establishes the conditions that gave rise to the apparent violation have been resolved and which gives FDA confidence that future entries will be in compliance with the Act. Therefore, it is expected you will submit information outlining the steps that have been taken to prevent violations in future shipments.

3. Individual Import Alerts may also have specific information regarding removal from detention without physical examination. You should review the import alert specific to your request, and ensure any and all documentation called for has been submitted.
Often, not only must documentation from at least five (5) consecutive, commercial sized shipments be provided to the FDA, but also documentation from the manufacturer or supplier of the product shipped to the United States which explains that the source of contamination or other adulteration has been eliminated.

Peter Quinter*, Shareholder
Customs and International Trade Law Group
GrayRobinson law firm
Miami, Florida
Direct: (305) 416-6960
Mobile: (954) 270-1864

*Mr. Quinter has been selected as one of the Best Lawyers in America in the area of FDA Law 2009-2013.

For any questions or comments about this Blog post or related import FDA matters, please write below.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Want a Good Deal at a U.S. Department of Treasury Auction?

When U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other Federal agencies seize and forfeit merchandise (boats, cars, planes, jewelry, etc.,), it almost always gets auctioned. Buyers can get some great deals. Of course, remember Buyer Beware in that you don't get to test what you buy in advance.

U.S. Department of the Treasury

U.S. Department of the Treasury October Auction Update
Upcoming Department of the Treasury Auctions
Online Vehicles:
Vehicles are located throughout the US and Puerto Rico. Featured vehicles include: 2011 Bentley Mulsanne, 1990 Nissan Skyline (Export only), 2013 Harley Davidson FLHX

October 11th-15th General/Southwest Vehicles
October 11th-16th Scrap/Salvage Vehicles
Check back at for updates and bidding instructions. Current vehicles are now posted. Previews start this week. Bidding opens on Friday!

General Property:
The next live general property auction will take place at the VSE Warehouse in Pompano Beach, Florida on October 23rd. The main preview will be on Tuesday, October 22nd from 9am-3pm. Details for offsite previews are listed on the vendor page.

IMAGE: CognacPHOTO: HandbagPHOTO: Watch

Aircraft and Vessels:
Please visit to view our current list of available vessels and aircraft. New items are added each week

Monday, October 7, 2013

FDA Cancels Educational Seminar about Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in Miami, Florida

It should be no surprise that because of the Federal Government's "shutdown", the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cancelled its planned October 10-11, 2013 educational seminars in Miami, Florida, about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The discussion between members of the international trade community in Florida who are interested in the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs and the Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors/Certification Bodies to Conduct Food Safety Audits is important before the Final Rules of FSMA go into effect. The scheduled October 22-23, 2013 public meetings in Long Beach, California, are also (for now) cancelled.

The Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) would establish requirements for importers to verify that their foreign suppliers are implementing the modern, prevention-oriented food safety practices called for by the FSMA. The Accreditation program is intended to strengthen the quality, objectivity, and transparency of foreign food safety audits on which many U.S. food companies and importers currently rely upon to help manage the safety of their global food supply chains.

Seems to me these are pretty important requirements to know about and share ideas.

The FDA website states:
With the closure of the U.S. federal government, we've been instructed to communicate to those registered for the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) public meeting on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)...that the meetings have been canceled.

For more information on FDA and U.S.Customs and Border Protection (CBP), please contact:
Chair, Customs and International Trade Law Group
Shareholder, GrayRobinson, P.A.
1221 Brickell Avenue, 16th Floor
Miami, Florida 33131
Direct: (305) 416-6960
Mobile (954) 270-1864