By Brecken Branstrator
A shot of some of the jewels seized in Detroit by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (Photo courtesy of CBP)
Detroit—U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized $20.7 million worth of jewelry at the U.S.-Canada border last week that was undeclared.

According to a release from the CBP, the jewelry was bound for a New York auction house, where it was slated to be appraised and then sold on behalf of its owner, a Canadian citizen. (The CBP did not provide the name of the auction house or of any of the individuals involved in the case for privacy.)

The merchandise was undeclared and unmanifested—meaning there were no documents detailing the type and number of packages, or their content and value.

Customs said the merchandise was discovered at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel on Nov. 16.

An investigation found that a courier service had been hired to transport the package to a Detroit-based contact, who would then make the final delivery to New York.

The driver of the vehicle transporting the jewelry claimed to have no knowledge of the package’s contents and was returned to Canada.

CBP informed the jewelry’s owner, meanwhile, that the jewels would be seized “based on importation contrary to law and for failure to declare the merchandise upon entry to the U.S.”

Customs officers are authorized to search all travelers, baggage and packages entering the United States, as some objects are subject to duty or importation requirement while others might be prohibited.

When asked what prompted authorities to search the vehicle that ultimately was found to be transporting the jewelry, a spokesperson for the CBP did not provide an specifics, stating only that inspections, including secondary searches, are done on a case-by-case basis.

The CBP website advises exporters to ensure they have created invoices containing all the information that would be shown on a packing list and detailed descriptions of each item in the package, and that each package is marked and numbered so it can be matched with corresponding information on the invoice.

For more information on invoice and packing rules for items slated for import into the U.S., including valuing the items, what invoices should contain, country-of-origin marks, and more, visit

TAGS:   Crime
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