Since October U.S. Customs has seized more than a dozen imported Land Rover Defender off-road utility vehicles for violating federal road safety standards, including two early last month at the Port of Norfolk in Virginia.
The agency said it is aware of vehicles with altered vehicle identification numbers to make them appear at least 25 years old and therefore exempt from certain safety standards, such as air bags. The illegal shipments have been discovered arriving from Great Britain at the ports of Baltimore, Charleston, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Savannah, Ga.
The import enforcement is being coordinated with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at CBP's Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center in Washington, where specialists from several agencies with import safety responsibilities are co-located to conduct joint risk assessments and direct inspectors in the field to suspicious shipments.
The value of the seized vehicles is about $250,000, CBP said. The vehicles can fetch as much as $150,000 in the United States because they cannot be lawfully imported unless they are at least 25 years old.
CBP urged prospective buyers to confirm the validity of vehicles purchased overseas by checking the VIN in a vehicle history report and report suspected trade violations through the eAllegations portal. - Eric Kulisch