U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has collected $575,000 in penalties following the closure of a civil enforcement action against the importer Pure Circle U.S.A., Inc. This action is the first penalty that CBP has issued for imports made with forced labor since the passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act in 2015, and demonstrates another enforcement tool in CBP’s ongoing effort to prevent goods made with forced labor from entering the United States.

The action against Pure Circle stems from an investigation into stevia produced in China by Inner Mongolia Hengzheng Group Baoanzhao Agricultural and Trade LLC (“Baoanzhao”) that CBP initiated after receiving an allegation from a Non-Governmental Organization. That investigation led CBP to issue a Withhold Release Order (WRO) in May 2016.  The WRO remains in effect.