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Customs warns of dangerous counterfeit goods

Published:Saturday | October 5, 2013 | 12:00 AM

THE LIST of counterfeit items entering and leaving the country is growing exponentially and the Jamaica Customs Agency is warning the public that these products could pose a danger to consumers.

Commissioner of Customs Major Richard Reece said the department has been intercepting phony processed food items more frequently than before.

Citing a recent bust in which several quantities of a popular locally produced energy drink was packaged for export laced with liquid cocaine, Reece said local products are now being illegally copied and exported to countries such as the United States.

"Oftentimes, it's not the manufacturer of the product that is engaged in the illicit activities. It is the middle person who is just a trader, and if you start having significant amount of contraband in say, energy drinks, if it were not to be managed properly, it could be fatal," Reece noted.

He said this was not only problematic for the overseas market as it could find its way back in local packages and could even ruin a company's brand.

EXPORTING WITHOUT APPROVAL

He added: "What we have had is persons purchasing local products, exporting it, and the product doesn't have any approval to go into that country. For example, cheese. The manufacturers of cheese in Jamaica do not export to the United States, but we have found persons who are purchasing the cheese from the manufacturer and then exporting it with other products."

The agency is also reporting that several quantities of illegal pharmaceuticals have been seized in recent times.

Reece noted that these items range from birth-control pills to sexual enhancers, adding that he has also received reports of persons ingesting these drugs and subsequently dying.