900 Bottles Of Diluted Clorox Bleach Seized In Nogales; Counterfeiting, Smuggling Rise
Counterfeiters and smugglers were expected to try to profit from the coronavirus pandemic. But officials have been caught off guard by trafficking of everyday items as common as Clorox.
In Nogales, Arizona, customs agents grew suspicious in March following a spike in items related to COVID-19 that are hard to come by: Clorox bleach and toilet paper.
Scott Brown is the special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Arizona. HSI is an agency within Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"Unfortunately the entire law enforcement community recognized as soon as there was the global pandemic there would be people seeking to profit off of that," he said.
Initially, agents expected counterfeit medications or financial fraud. But then, "I think cleaning products was one we didn’t think of at the get-go of this but certainly one that as we put more thought into how can they be seeking to profit that’s one that came to mind," Brown said.
Operation Stolen Promise is a federal crackdown across the country — six have been arrested, $3 million seized and hundreds of cases of cleansers, including more than 900 bottles of diluted Clorox bleach seized in Nogales.
Some of the bleach is produced only to be used in Mexico under Mexico standards. The cases seized in Nogales not only thwarted that rule but were so diluted they wouldn't be effective.
Agents with ICE, the FBI, Customs and Border Protection have also targeted more than 11,000 fraudulent domain names and counterfeit COVID-19 testing kits.