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Baltimore CBP Seizes $26,000 in Switchblade Knives Shipment

Release Date: 
July 18, 2013

BALTIMORE—James Dean's character Jim flashed one in his fight with Buzz during his film Rebel Without a Cause, but today, he'd be a rebel without a switchblade after U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Port of Baltimore seized a shipment of 2,400 switchblade knives and 1,200 butterfly combs from China Friday for violating the federal Switchblade Knife Act. The assessed domestic value of the 3,600 pieces is $26,568.


A display of switchblade knives seized by CBP at the Baltimore port of entry.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 2,400 switchblade knives and 1,200 metal butterfly combs, valued at $26,568, that violated the federal Switchblade Knife Act.

CBP's Baltimore Trade Enforcement Team unloaded the shipping container June 11 at its Centralized Examination Station (CES) and examined the container's contents. On June 14, CBP officers detained the metal combs and knives which were shipped from China. The combs were constructed in such a way that allows easy removal of the comb and insertion of a knife blade. Moreover, officers determined that the sharp metal teeth of the combs could be potentially harmful to users if left as a comb.

After close examination, CBP import specialists determined Friday that the shipment was prohibited from entering the United States under the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958.

The Switchblade Knife Act of 1958 prohibits the importation, sale or possession of spring-assisted, automatically-opening knives in interstate commerce. According to 19 CFR 12.97, importations of switchblade knives, except as permitted by 15 USC 1244, are importations contrary to law and are subject to forfeiture under 19 USC 1595a(c).

"Switchblade knives are generally illegal, and the blades and poorly constructed metal combs pose a significant threat to health and public safety," said Ricardo Scheller, CBP Port Director for the Port of Baltimore. "Customs and Border Protection officers, import specialists and agriculture specialists pore over hundreds of thousands of commercial entries daily to ensure that each commodity fully complies with applicable federal laws and regulations and is safe for American consumers. We take this responsibility very seriously."

The assessed value of the switchblades is $17,712 and the combs are assessed at $8,856. The shipment was destined to an address in Baltimore.

CBP sent a letter to the importer, who is not being named as the importer has not been criminally charged, to explain the forfeiture process.

CBP conducts inspection operations on imported and exported commercial shipments and intercepts narcotics, weapons, stolen vehicles, prohibited agriculture products or other illicit items.

To learn more about CBP's Border Security and Trade enforcement missions, please visit

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017