Federal agents in Phoenix seize over 200K counterfeit face masks

Dec 30, 2020, 10:45 AM
(Department of Homeland Security Photo)...
(Department of Homeland Security Photo)
(Department of Homeland Security Photo)

PHOENIX – Federal officials said Tuesday they seized more than 200,000 counterfeit surgical masks in Phoenix that were to be used by medical personnel.

The fake N95 masks, valued at about $1 million, could have posed a risk of COVID exposure to health care workers across the country, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a press release.

Some of the phony respirator masks were taken by Homeland Security Investigations and border agents at Phoenix Sky Harbor.

The inquiry began in October, after agents at the airport examined an imported shipment of the masks and eventually established a sample was fake.

Authorities said the seizure included 212,480 counterfeit 3M N95 masks, including more than 20,000 discovered in a warehouse this month. Further investigation found that nearly 96,000 of the fakes had already been shipped to hospitals. They were recalled.

“These seizures illustrate the ongoing efforts of HSI, [Customs and Border Protection] and private industry in keeping our communities and medical staff safe and free from counterfeit products,” Scott Brown, special agent in charge for HSI Phoenix, said.

The Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General also worked on the investigation.

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Federal agents in Phoenix seize over 200K counterfeit face masks