More than 500,000 counterfeit N-95 respirator masks, with an estimated domestic value of more than $3 million, were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Chicago earlier this month, according to a press release.
According to authorities, officers were contacted by the Department of Homeland Security and told to seize a shipment arriving from Schenzhen, China on Sept. 10 in Chicago. The shipment was immediately seized, and officials say they discovered more than 500,000 masks purporting to be N-95 respirator masks in the shipment.
Officers from the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team sent 30 of the masks to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing office in West Virginia, which found that 10% of the respirators tested had a filter efficiency rating of below 95%.
According to officials, the domestic value of the masks was estimated at over $3 million due to the heightened demand for the products caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Our CBP officers, working with partners in HIS, were able to stop these faulty masks from being sold under the guise of fully protecting Americans,” Shane Campbell, Area Port Director in Chicago, said in a statement. “These masks did not meet the safety standards outlined by the CDC, which puts the public at risk, jeopardizing the health and well-being of everyone.”