A trade enforcement team from U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a shipment of 2,400 switchblades and 1,200 butterfly combs from China last month in Baltimore for violating the federal Switchblade Knife Act of 1958.
The Act prohibits the importation, sale or possession of spring-assisted, automatically opening knives in interstate commerce. Folding knives were once perceived as the weapon of choice for gang members, only to be replaced by guns. Assisted-opening knives that require manual assistance to open have fewer legal restrictions are more typically found in general use.
The items were discovered in an ocean container following a physical examination at a nearby warehouse, which was prompted by clues in the customs entry. The combs were constructed to allow easy removal of the comb and insertion of a knife blade. Moreover, officers determined that the sharp metal teeth of the combs could be potentially harmful to users if left as a comb, CBP said.
The assessed domestic value of the 3,600 pieces is $26,568
The shipment was destined to an address in Baltimore. CBP said it sent a letter to the importer, who is not being named because the importer has not been criminally charged, to explain the forfeiture process.
- Eric Kulisch