CHICAGO–CBP’s International Mail Facility (IMF) at O’Hare processes millions of packages a year, however, many of the packages that arrive from overseas contain illegal products. CBP officers work day and night to ensure arriving packages are safe, protecting our communities.
During Fiscal Year 2021, which ran from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021, CBP officers in Chicago seized 5,624 pounds of narcotics and $7.89 million in counterfeit merchandise.
Chicago CBP saw a 10% increase in drug seizures this year. This year the number one seized narcotic in Chicago was Tapentadol, a schedule II opioid. This drug came in various doses and was mostly being shipped from India, destined for addresses across the United States. CBP nationally seized 2,399 shipments, a 605% increase from last year. The second highest seizure within the Chicago IMF was Carisoprodol, a schedule IV drug used to treat musculoskeletal pain, seizures increased of this drug by 105% from last year. CBP seized 2,193 shipments of this drug. These shipments mostly came into the United States from India. Carisoprodol has serious side-effects to include addiction and seizures. Psilocybin Mushrooms finished in third, as CBP seized 439 shipments of these magic mushrooms, known for their hallucinogenic effects.
Additionally, Chicago CBP intercepted 94 shipments of counterfeit cargo with Louis Vuitton handbags, Rolex watches and Gucci handbags being the top seized items. CBP plays an essential role in protecting the economy and consumers’ safety and health, legitimate businesses, and the global supply chain.
There are several steps that consumers can take to protect themselves when shopping online. Purchase goods only from reputable retailers and be wary of third-party vendors. Check seller reviews and verify there is a working phone number and address for the seller, in case you have questions about the legitimacy of a product.
“This past year’s seizures show the great job our CBP officers here in Chicago do,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago. “More and more consumers are using e-commerce at unprecedented levels to buy items. Buyers need to be aware that criminals are out there ready to cheat you out of your money by claiming that these fake and illicit items or real and/or safe. Buyer’s must beware and informed.”
Additionally, CBP Agriculture Specialists in Chicago issued 2,486 Mail Interception Notices. These seizures largely consisted of food products including meat products, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables have the obvious risk of transporting pests or diseases that could cause serious outbreaks to the United States agriculture crops. These pests and diseases would otherwise be separated from this continent by oceans. Animal products such as cured meats may also be dangerous to our agriculture. Though these products may have undergone a process to preserve them for human consumption (e.g. curing to prevent the growth of bacteria), economically important livestock viruses may actually be preserved within that animal tissue staying viable longer than in raw meat. Discarded products may then provide a path for the introduction of that disease into the United States.
CBP also seized 268 shipments containing more than $7.38 million in United States currency and arrested 117 criminals that were departing or arriving at O’Hare with outstanding warrants.
“Our highly trained officers are always on alert for those who are fleeing the country to avoid prosecution or entering the U.S. with outstanding warrants,” said Shane Campbell, Area Port Director, Chicago. “With the tools at our disposal, we are very good in the apprehension of wanted criminals.”
CBPs nationwide fiscal year numbers are also now available on our website on the enforcement page: CBP Enforcement Statistics Fiscal Year 2022 | U.S. Customs and Border Protection. For further context, please refer to our press release located here.
CBP conducts operations at ports of entry throughout the United States, and regularly screens arriving international passengers and cargo for narcotics, weapons, and other restricted or prohibited products. CBP strives to serve as the premier law enforcement agency enhancing the Nation’s safety, security, and prosperity through collaboration, innovation, and integration.