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CBP Seizes Vehicle Smuggled from Mexico into Puerto Rico

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized a vehicle that was smuggled into the US and transported all the way to Puerto Rico.

The individual, a US citizen, purchased in Mexico a 2022 Suzuki “Jimny” and obtained Mexican plates driving the vehicle across the Southwest border all the way to Jacksonville, Florida. A US flagged ship transported the vehicle to Puerto Rico.

“The public must be skeptical of claims by a foreign dealer or other seller that a vehicle meets these standards or can readily be brought into compliance,” stated Roberto Vaquero, Acting Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. “Vehicles entering the United States that do not conform with U.S. safety standards and emission laws must be brought into compliance, exported, or destroyed.”

The vehicle did not comply with US Department of Transportation requirements regarding auto safety and US Environmental Protection Agency standards for emissions.

Both the DOT and the EPA advise that although a nonconforming car may be conditionally admitted, the modification required to bring it into compliance may be so extensive and costly that it may be impractical and even impossible to achieve such compliance. It is highly recommended that these prohibitions and modifications be investigated before a vehicle’s purchased for importation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2, Air Compliance determined that the Suzuki Jimny is a vehicle that is not for sale in the United States. Vehicles that are not for sale in the U.S. would not be certified for importation.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, Import and Certification Division specified: “The Suzuki is not eligible for importation because it is less than 25 years old from the date of manufacture. The vehicle is not exempt from NHTSA statutes and regulations under 49 U.S.C. § 30112 (b)(9). Further subject vehicle does not comply with 49 U.S.C. § 30112(a) a law that relates to safety.”

Furthermore, CBP seized the vehicle citing a violation to title 19, United States Code, Section 15956(a), on regarding merchandise which is introduced or attempted to be introduced into the US contrary to law.

If vehicles manufactured abroad conform to U.S. safety, bumper, and emission standards, it is because these vehicles are exported for sale in the United States. Therefore, it is unlikely that a vehicle obtained abroad meets all relevant standards.

Buyers of foreign merchandise must comply with CBP import regulations, file entry, and pay duties for merchandise purchased abroad. Subject never file an entry, or paid duties for the merchandise imported into the US.

“Importers could reach the Area Port of San Juan and talk to a CBP Import Specialist for guidance when importing vehicles into the US,” added Mr. Vaquero.