Wednesday, September 16, 2009

US Customs outlines C-TPAT enforcement and appeal rules

The C-TPAT program is one layer in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) multi-layered cargo enforcement strategy. Through this program, CBP works with the trade community in adopting tighter security measures throughout their international supply chains. In exchange for adopting these stronger security practices and after verification by CBP that the measures are in place, CBP generally affords C-TPAT members reduced inspections. C-TPAT is a voluntary program with a “trust but verify” focus and, as such, the program must take immediate action to suspend or remove members that are not in compliance with the program’s minimum security criteria. This informational notice outlines the program’s enforcement and appeal process.

C-TPAT members may be suspended or removed from the program for several reasons including, but not limited to, the following: narcotics seizures or other security related incidents such as human smuggling; failed validations or lack of compliance with C-TPAT requirements regarding supply chain or other security measures; failure to provide required information or filing false or misleading information; or actions or inaction that shows a lack of commitment to the program.

The C-TPAT Headquarters (HQ) Program Director makes the final decision to suspend or remove a member based on all available information, including reports and recommendations made by C-TPAT Field Managers. In certain aggravated circumstances companies may be immediately removed from the program, for example, when they are found to have provided false information, have demonstrated inadequate security, or have demonstrated a flagrant disregard for the program’s requirements. In other instances, which may not be as egregious, but are nonetheless significant, a company may be suspended from C-TPAT with an opportunity to resume membership once it comes into compliance with program requirements.

Once a security related incident or other program violation occurs, C-TPAT officials determine the appropriate next steps on a case-by-case basis. These steps normally include suspending benefits such as FAST lane access and allowances in the risk assessment process, as well as conducting a post incident analysis to determine the circumstances that led to the violation.

To be reinstated into the program after an incident or violation, the company must agree to a corrective action plan which identifies specific objectives and time frames within which those objectives should be reached. In addition, the company must consent to un-announced visits by C-TPAT staff to monitor progress. In the case of a failed validation, the company must demonstrate that it has successfully addressed all vulnerabilities and complied with all other requirements before being fully reinstated.

Companies that are suspended or removed may appeal this decision to CBP HQ. Appeals should include all relevant information which demonstrates how the company has addressed the issues which resulted in the suspension or removal, or provide corrected factual information in the case where a company claims that a mistake of fact or other misunderstanding has resulted in the suspension or removal. CBP will decide the appeal in a timely fashion.
To avoid suspension or removal, C-TPAT members must ensure they are in full compliance with the minimum security criteria and be cognizant of, and responsive to, mandated timeframes established by CBP.
Source: US Customs & Border Protection

Contact us for more information on how to secure your C-TPAT Certification.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Message from the C-TPAT Director

C-TPAT Members:

As we maintain our vigilance against extremist attacks originating from locations far from our borders, we must also recognize that many threats we face are much closer.

Over the course of the past few months law enforcement on both sides of the US/Mexico border have made several large narcotics seizures involving commercial shipments linked to C-TPAT members. The seizures have occurred across the entire southwest border and involved both dry goods as well as fresh produce. In most cases the narcotics were commingled with the commercial merchandise. Of particular note is that in many instances C-TPAT members were utilizing the services of non-C-TPAT service providers.

CBP reminds members that they are expected to use C-TPAT partners to the extent possible and to conduct extensive screening of their non-C-TPAT business partners. Members must have written and verifiable processes in place to ensure this screening takes place on a consistent basis. Given the current threat from Mexico, non-C-TPAT business partners must be afforded higher levels of scrutiny. C-TPAT members are expected to verify the security measures being utilized.

Comprehensive reviews of recent events have clearly identified two primary causative factors having enabled supply chain security breaches;

Companies had established security procedures in place yet failed to follow them.
Lack of corporate oversight ultimately resulting in significant levels of subversion of established supply chain security procedures via internal conspiracies.

It is imperative that C-TPAT partners perform internal risk assessments to identify inherent threats to supply chain corridors and augment established security procedures accordingly. We have taken this opportunity to identify other causative factors which you may wish to consider as you evaluate the risk factors unique to your supply chain and further, the steps that you can take to mitigate these risks. Areas of consideration include:

Ensuring there is adequate oversight and accountability of the cargo loading and sealing process.

Employing the use of cameras and/or other suitable monitoring devices or processes at the cargo loading areas.

Ensuring that all conveyance hardware and fastening devices are inspected for overall security and deterrence of unauthorized access. Where deficiencies are present, steps must be taken to mitigate the risk and/or harden all fastening/access devices.

Consider the use of more stringent security devices to secure trailer doors.

Audit and verification of employee screening processes, to include periodic reviews.

Consider rotating personnel assigned to operationally sensitive positions, such as dispatcher.

Review the established processes for oversight of the transportation component. Areas of potential weaknesses and vulnerability should be assessed. Specific attention and focus should be provided towards addressing potential delays and/or opportunities for security breach.

Members should work with service providers to develop written and verifiable procedures to track conveyances from the point of origin to the final destination.

Establishment of route times from the manufacturing site to various points in the transportation flow will help monitor and ensure that drivers are arriving at designated locations within established time parameters.

Members should work with service providers to develop written and verifiable procedures to address those instances that a driver does not check in within established time parameters. Drivers should not be allowed to make unauthorized stops.

While the focus of this security bulletin is directed toward operations along the South West Border of the United States, all C-TPAT members are highly encouraged to take this opportunity to review their established security processes. Continued supply chain security is dependent upon your continued vigilance.

You are encouraged to contact your assigned Supply Chain Security Specialist to discuss ways in which your company can help CBP address this issue or if you have specific concerns that need to be addressed.

In closing, the program relays its continued appreciation of your diligent and continued efforts in securing the international supply chain.


Bradd M. Skinner
Director
C-TPAT/ Industry Partnership Programs
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

_________________________________________________________________


For any question on C-TPAT, please contact Custom Trade Solutions at info@customtrade.us

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

CBP Increases Controls of Southbound Shipments

Please find below a CBP news release regarding a recent seizure involving a FAST driver employed by a C-TPAT highway carrier. This seizure highlights that CBP is aggressively targeting southbound shipments destined for Mexico for contraband such as firearms and undeclared currency. This is the fourth significant seizure involving a C-TPAT member in the last two weeks and underscores the importance of members having robust supply chain security measures governing inbound and outbound shipments. Seizures of this sort demonstrate that drivers can be compromised, indicating a possible failure to comply with C-TPAT minimum security criteria such as driver screening. CBP would like to advise C-TPAT members that they may experience increased inspections at all Southwest border Ports of Entry. CBP encourages C-TPAT members engaged in trade with Mexico to re-double their efforts to keep their supply chains safe. C-TPAT will take immediate action to suspend or remove partners by revoking the C-TPAT benefits and FAST access of those partners not in compliance with the program’s minimum security criteria.

News Release
April 13, 2009

CBP Officers Seize $1 Million in Undeclared Outbound Currency from FAST Driver at World Trade Bridge

Laredo, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Laredo Port of Entry conducting outbound operations this Easter weekend and seized $1 million in undeclared currency from a driver enrolled in a trusted shipper program.

The seizure occurred about 2 p.m. on April 11, 2009 at World Trade Bridge. CBP officers conducting outbound (southbound) inspections referred a 1999 Freightliner tractor hauling a shipment of appliances driven by Jose Luis Martinez Gonzalez, a 26-year-old Mexican citizen from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico for a secondary examination. The driver gave a negative declaration for currency in excess of $10,000, weapons or ammunition. A routine inspection of the tractor cab resulted in a canine alert to the mattress in the sleeper cab area. A non-intrusive imaging system scan indicated anomalies in the same area. A closer visual inspection of the area revealed tape-wrapped bundles revealing U. S. currency hidden under the mattress. CBP officers discovered bundles containing $1,000,035 in undeclared currency underneath the mattress in the sleeper area of the cab. CBP officers arrested Martinez Gonzalez on federal bulk cash smuggling charges and turned him over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents who investigated the seizure. The tractor was seized by CBP officers.

“Our CBP officers working hand in glove in southbound inspections together with Border Patrol agents and ICE special agents have been making excellent bulk currency interceptions in the outbound arena recently and this is an impressive seizure to add to the accomplishments of our outbound team,” said Gene Garza, CBP Port Director, Laredo.

In fiscal year 2008, CBP officers at Laredo Port of Entry seized over $3.1 million dollars in undeclared currency in 146 different seizures. So far, in fiscal year 2009, CBP officers have seized over $9.9 million dollars in 62 different seizures.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest. An individual may petition for the return of currency seized by CBP officers, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.

For more information on how to secure your supply chain, please contact Custom Trade Solutions at http://www.customtrade.us/ and learn more about C-TPAT.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nearly Three Tons of Marijuana Seized on C-TPAT/FAST Shipments

CBP Officers Seize Nearly Three Tons of Marijuana
Hidden in Two FAST Shipments at Laredo Port of Entry

Laredo, Texas –Within a 24-hour period, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Field Operations officers at the Laredo Port of Entry discovered nearly three tons of marijuana in two commercial trucks that had been enrolled in a trusted shipper program.

The latest seizure occurred shortly before 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2009 at World Trade Bridge. A CBP officer referred a 1999 Freightliner tractor that had entered the bridge through the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lane hauling a 2007 Token trailer laden with a shipment of auto parts for secondary inspection. The conveyance, part of the FAST program, a trusted shipper program, was driven by a 29-year-old female Mexican citizen from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. A non-intrusive imaging system scan indicated anomalies within the shipment. CBP officers conducted an intensive examination of the tractor trailer at the cargo dock and discovered bundles commingled with the shipment of auto parts. CBP officers discovered 157 bundles containing a total of nearly 3,472 pounds of marijuana. The marijuana has an estimated street value of $3.4 million.

The other seizure occurred shortly before 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, 2009 at Colombia-Solidarity Bridge. A CBP officer referred a 1997 Freightliner tractor that had entered the bridge through the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lane hauling a 1999 Wabash trailer laden with a shipment of empty racks for secondary inspection. The conveyance, part of the FAST program, a trusted shipper program, was driven by a 27-year-old male Mexican citizen from Colombia, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. A non-intrusive imaging system scan indicated anomalies within the rear part of the trailer. CBP Canine “Martin” alerted to the odor of narcotics emanating from the rear of the trailer. CBP officers conducted an intensive examination of the tractor trailer at the cargo dock and discovered bundles in boxes in the rear of the trailer. Within the 101 bundles, CBP officers discovered a total of nearly 2,505 pounds of marijuana. The marijuana has an estimated street value of $2.5 million.

“Our frontline CBP officers utilized their high tech tools, canines and inspectional experience to detect and interdict two significant loads of narcotics in less than 24 hours that had entered through a lane designated for our trusted shipper program, FAST,” said Gene Garza, CBP Port Director, Laredo. “Our continuous review of our trusted shipper program to ensure compliance with the high standards of the program has proven to be effective.”

Monday, April 6, 2009

CBP Acting Commissioner Testifies before Congress

CBP Acting Commissioner Testifies before Congress

On April 1st, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Jayson P. Ahern, appeared before U.S. Congress and outlined the achievements of CBP and the goals for the future.
Mr. Ahern described in details the “multi-layered approach to ensure the integrity of the supply chain from the point of stuffing through arrival at a U.S. port of entry. This multi-layered approach includes:

-Advanced information under the 24-Hour Rule and Trade Act of 2002 (supplemented now by our Importer Security Filing requirements)
-Screening the information through the Automated Targeting System (ATS) and National Targeting Center – Cargo (NTC-C)
-Partnerships with industry and the private sector such as the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)
-Partnerships with foreign governments, such as the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and the Secure Freight Initiative (SFI)
-Use of Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) technology and mandatory exams for all high risk shipments.

Among these programs, Mr. Ahern described C-TPAT as an “integral part of the CBP multi-layered strategy”. For the year 2009, U.S. Customs, through C-TPAT, will strengthen the partnership with certified companies. Mr. Ahern added that CBP will certify supply chain security profiles within 90 days of submission and will conduct C-TPAT validation within a year of certification and revalidations within 4 years from the initial validation.

With these requirements, come certain benefits that certified companies already enjoy such as “cost and delay savings associated with reduced examinations, expedited treatment when examinations are warranted, tighter inventory control of assets, business resumption privileges, ability to supply goods or services to those U.S. importers who require suppliers to have acceptable supply chain security programs, and a competitive advantage over firms with no or limited supply chain security programs”.

Friday, March 6, 2009

C-TPAT and the economy

Many of my clients have expressed concerns on the actual economy. Sales are down, reduction in production and possible layoffs are just a few examples of what many companies are facing nowadays. But, from those conversations, one thing struck me: C-TPAT. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. It is the one thing that several companies are seeing as a very valuable asset.
Many companies, despite the tough times, are still pursuing a C-TPAT certification because it is the deciding factor between their company and their competitor. More companies are joining the program because it is the right thing to do. First, no company importing into the United States wants to have some illicit merchandise smuggled on one of their shipment. Second, more businesses are requiring a C-TPAT certification from their vendors and will only deal with certified companies.
C-TPAT is becoming a worldwide business practice. Many countries are working on their own version of C-TPAT (Canada with the Partner In Protection program, the European Union with the Authorized Economic Operator program, New Zealand with the Secured Export Partnership, etc…).
Do you see an added value to be C-TPAT certified or do you think C-TPAT is a fad, destined to fade like many other customs programs over the years?