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And Up to Twenty Years in Prison: The Criminalization of US Customs Violations

The United States is using more weapons than ever to bring claims against importers. During the past several years, the U.S. government has increasingly chosen to bring criminal charges, in addition to the usual civil claims, against alleged customs violators. Whereas an allegation of a customs violation in the past largely affected only a company’s pocketbook, of late companies and their executives are facing criminal investigations, felony charges with possible imprisonment of up to twenty years, and potentially career ending reputational damage. No company or executive wants to be the next target of an investigation or, worse yet, a defendant. Being aware of the burgeoning enforcement regime that now applies non-trade specific statutes to customs violations will help importers stay ahead of this regulatory enforcement curve and minimize the risk of investigation and prosecution.

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Luca Winer, a Summer Associate in the Firm's Washington, DC, office, assisted in the development of this alert.

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