FEBRUARY 16, 2012
While loads of drugs and illegal immigrants slip into the U.S. through the southern border, the Homeland Security agency created after 9/11 to protect the nation from such threats boasts about intercepting counterfeit perfume and unsafe hair dryers.
Incredible but true. The huge agency—Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—created after the 2001 attacks to protect the country from terrorists, narcotics and illegal aliens is busy seizing hair dryers and perfume. In separate press releases this month, the agency brags about confiscating $51 million worth of fake perfume in fiscal year 2011 and more than 12,000 “dangerous hair dryers” at ports on opposite coasts of the country.
Americans should sleep easier at night knowing that CBP busted a ring that largely sold a “Sex in the City” brand of perfume named after a popular cable television series. These sorts of counterfeit perfumes are a form of theft from the brand owner and protecting American intellectual property is a priority for CBP, the agency says in its announcement. In addition to the economic harm, the agency further says, counterfeit perfumes are also often contaminated with unknown chemicals that can cause serious injury.
The “unsafe” hair dryer offenders were recently apprehended at ports in Los Angeles and Miami. They look like regular blow dryers and come in pink, red and a zebra print, according to pictures included in the federal announcement. The dryers were confiscated because they were determined to constitute a “substantial product hazard” under U.S. law for failing to have adequate immersion protection. They were previously identified through a nationwide targeting operation by a special CBP unit dedicated to such matters.
An agency spokesman explained the importance of such missions, saying that the vigilance of CBP officers at ports of entry will help ensure that products like hair dryers are safe for consumers. Keeping those defective blow dryers from reaching store shelves is hardly a cause for celebration at an agency that’s charged with guarding the nation’s borders and ports of entry from real threats.
CBP was created after 9/11 as the unified border agency by combining the inspectional and border forces of U.S. Customs, U.S. Immigration, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and the U.S. Border Patrol. The idea was to create a powerful force that would effectively protect America’s borders.
Instead, CBP has been rocked by numerous scandals involving corrupt agents at airports, seaports and checkpoints along the southern border. They include officers working in different parts of the Mexican border accepting bribes from human and drug smugglers and an officer at a Florida airport charged with assisting a drug smuggling ring by tapping into sensitive federal databases. Officers throughout the agency have been charged with trafficking drugs, taking money for migrant smuggling, witness tampering and embezzlement.
In the meantime heavily armed Mexican drug cartels have transformed the southern border into a war zone and record amounts of narcotics are entering the U.S., according to various federal and news reports. The crisis is so severe that a border-state congressman who chairs a Homeland Security committee held a special hearing last May to address the matter.
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