Nearly 13 tons of products and accessories made with human hair were confiscated Wednesday by federal authorities in New York who were warned weeks ago that such shipments could be tied to forced child labor and imprisonment in China.
The products, worth over $800,000, are suspected to have been made and shipped from Xinjiang, China, where the government has detained as many as 1 million Muslim ethnic minorities in detention camps, according to investigations reported by The New York Times.
“It is absolutely essential that American importers ensure that the integrity of their supply chain meets the humane and ethical standards expected by the American government and by American consumers,” Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Trade, said in a statement.
“The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in U.S. supply chains,” Smith added.
On June 17, the customs officials notified all ports of entry countrywide to seize any hair products coming from the Chinese company Lop County Meixin Hair Product Co. Ltd. “based on information that reasonably indicated that they are manufactured with the use of prison labor,” according to the statement.
Federal authorities said the manufacturing process may include “excessive overtime, withholding of wages and the restriction of movement.”
This is the second time this year that CBP has issued a Withhold Release Order on hair products from China, according to the Associated Press.
The first was in May for Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co., but those hair weave accessories were synthetic, not human, the outlet reported.
The Withhold Release Order offers the Chinese company an opportunity to “demonstrate” that the products were not made with forced labor, according to the statement.
The Chinese Ministry of Affairs responded and denied any allegations, Refinery29 reported.
“We hope that certain people in the United States can take off their tinted glasses, correctly understand and objectively and rationally view normal economic and trade cooperation between Chinese and American enterprises,” the ministry said in a statement.