On March 11, 2019, Customs officials in Detroit announced the launching of a Global Trade Task Force (GTTF), a US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) multi-agency effort that leverages robust import and export controls and investigative authorities to combat illicit commercial activities. HSI Detroit Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis called the task force a vital next step in the battle against threats to the commerce stream and national security. He said this new DHS Detroit led task force could serve as a national model for related investigations across the agency and beyond. The announcement said in part:
The new task force combines the investigative, interdiction, regulatory, and licensing capabilities from a variety of agencies, including HSI,CBP, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, and the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
The GTTF’s primary mission is to counter the following types of illicit commercial activities:
- Health & Safety: Trafficking of counterfeit, substandard, or tainted merchandise, with an emphasis on goods that pose a threat to public health or safety including pharmaceuticals and cosmeceuticals, automotive, aerospace, rail, and heavy industry products; and environmental crimes.
- Trade Crime: Financially-motivated fraud schemes that deprive revenue from the United States government or which harm businesses, rights holders, or undermine financial institutions.
- Counter-Proliferation: Illegal export of United States military products, sensitive dual-use technology, weapons of mass destruction, or chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials.
To kick off the GTTF, CBP along with HSI and other agencies began a weeklong enforcement effort at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Port Huron Blue Water Bridge Ports of Entry. The action targeted merchandise and shipments entering and exiting the United States from foreign countries at the FedEx, DHL, rail, and the centralized examination station. During the weeklong surge, CBP and HSI seized more than $1,000,0000 MSRP in counterfeit goods and counterfeit prescription drugs, which included, counterfeit Xanax pills and Botox, counterfeit Transceiver Network Modules, counterfeit e-cigarettes, and counterfeit Rolexes and iPhone, among other items.