Customs agents seize more than $479K worth of undeclared contact lenses

CINCINNATI — Customs agents in Cincinnati and other law enforcement officials seized more than 26,000 pairs of undeclared or mis-declared contact lenses in late October, authorities said.

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In a news release Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said special agents, with help from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s office of criminal investigation and FDA consumer safety, found 26,477 pairs of the contact lenses.

The misbranded lenses, which violate FDA laws, originated primarily from Hong Kong and Japan and were addressed to venues across the U.S., the news release stated.

The cumulative manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the lenses were $479,082 if they had been legally imported.

“Counterfeit products, such as these contact lenses, can contain toxic substances that can impact the public’s eyesight,” LaFonda Sutton-Burke, director for the CBP’s field office in Chicago, said in a statement. “Counterfeiters have no moral compass and will counterfeit just about anything to make a buck. We have encountered counterfeit makeup, perfumes, toys, clothing, electronics, machinery parts, basically, anything in demand we’ve seen it. The movement of these goods into online marketplaces pose a significant risk to the American consumer.”

“When purchasing contact lenses from online sources, consumers should be aware of the dangers associated with buying unregulated commodities,” Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie said in a statement. “Not only are they dangerous to your health and well-being, but often fund criminal enterprises one way or another. Our officers and agriculture specialists enforce laws for many partner agencies to stop illegal shipments from getting to consumers.”