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5 May 2020Americas

US customs raids find thousands of fake COVID-19 test kits

US customs authorities have seized tens of thousands of counterfeit and unapproved COVID-19 test kits, largely sent through the postal system, since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some of the biggest seizures have come in Cincinnati, where US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers uncovered almost 30,000 counterfeit and unapproved kits, with a value of $588,760.

According to CBP, most of the counterfeit or unapproved COVID-19 testing kits entering the US have been sent through the postal system.

The crackdown on unapproved testing kits has been focused on airports and postage hubs operated by DHL, FedEx, and the United Postal Service (UPS).

At O’Hare’s International Mail Facility in Chicago, which processes 20% of all international mail entering the US, CBP has seized 1,147 prohibited test kits to date.

Most of those kits came from the UK, a statement from the agency added. US customs also reported other seizures in Louisville, Kentucky and Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Protecting the health of the American people is one of the main priorities for CBP,” said James Moore, the agency’s port director in Indianapolis

“These products have serious consequences to everyone,” added Hans Leiterman, assistant area port director, in Chicago.

“CBP seizures of illegally imported merchandise helps protect the health and safety of US citizens,” Leiterman added.

Customs are also grappling with the regular supply of non-COVID-19-related counterfeit pharmaceuticals during the pandemic.

On Friday, May 1, the CPB said it had seized 35lb of  counterfeit Xanax (alprazolam), a popular benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety, since April 24.

“The seizure of these counterfeit drugs are vital as they could lead to serious health issues if consumed due to the nature of how they are produced and what is contained within them, said port director Steven Bronson.

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