General Crime

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials seized more than $4 million in illegal car parts at the Port of Oakland

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said today that they have seized more than $4 million in illegal car parts at the Port of Oakland in a shipment from China that were falsely listed as light-emitting diode power supplies. Customs officials said that in mid-October, officers who were examining a commercial shipment discovered that instead of containing the LED supplies that had been manifested, which would have been legal, the shipment contained 25,600 high-intensity discharge conversion kits and ballasts with an estimated total value of $4 million.

According to customs officials, HID kits are used to convert stock vehicle headlights to higher-intensity HID lamps and are regulated by U.S. Department of Transportation. Customs officials said they worked with the Department of Transportation to evaluate the validity of the import entry and it was determined that the kits and ballasts weren’t in compliance with federal standards. They also did not meet dimensional, electrical and marking requirements, customs officials said.

Brian Humphrey, the agency’s director of field operations in San Francisco, said in a statement, “Products that do not comply with rigid safety standards present a significant hazard to consumers.” Customs and Border Protection spokesman Frank Falcon said HID lights can be dangerous to other drivers because they are very bright, and can result in fire hazards if they are installed in vehicles that aren’t appropriate for them.

“These lights are apparently are very, very bright and can blind you,” Falcon said. He said he is not sure why drivers would want to use the lights, but some people might think they’re “cool” and others simply want the extra brightness for visibility. Falcon said he is not sure if the people responsible for the illegal shipment will be prosecuted, but they will likely lose about $4 million because the illegal parts will probably be destroyed.

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