U.S. Customs authorities at several ports have stopped in recent months dozens of Land Rover Defender off-road utility vehicles that violated federal highway safety standards, including the requirement for airbags.
Customs and Border Protection said some of these illegal shipments require destruction at salvage yards because their Vehicle Identification Number was intentionally altered to make the vehicles appear newer than they are. Under federal regulations older, non-conforming vehicles may be imported without restriction.
All shipments were targeted for examination by CBP's Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center in Washington. The CTAC combines resources and staff from several government agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, to protect Americans from unsafe imported products.
Illegal shipments of Land Rovers have been seized at the ports of Philadelphia, Norfolk, Va.; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Houston; and Tacoma, Wash. In an April news release, CBP said the shipments were discovered coming from the United Kingdom and that Baltimore was a port of entry too.
The U.S. value of the vehicles can run as high as $150,000 and is inflated by the fact that they must be at least 25 years old to be lawfully imported, making them rare commodities.
CBP urges prospective buyers of imported vehicles to confirm the validity of the vehicles by checking the VIN in a vehicle history report and report suspected violations through the eAllegations
window. - Eric Kulish