US cracks down on Chinese visitors bringing herbal medicines

An airport security officer checks luggage at Los Angeles International Airport. (Photo/CNS)


Chinese visitors to the US should avoid bringing traditional herbal medicines or they may face possible penalties including imprisonment, reports China’s Global Times.


The newspaper said a resident of eastern China’s Zhejiang province, surnamed Wu, was handcuffed and confined by US customs officers along with his 12-year-old daughter for over 10 hours after they were found carrying 16 bottles of Chinese herbal medicines at Los Angeles International Airport. The two had been asked to bring the medicine by Ms Yu, an LA resident. The two were later put on the next flight back to China and may not return to the US for five years.


Ms Yu said the herbal medicine was meant to alleviate the symptoms of her daughter’s chronic illness and were prescribed by a Chinese doctor. A test conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed however that the products contained traces of cocaine and as such should be destroyed.


A Chinese resident in LA told the paper that it is common for Chinese people living in the US to ask others to bring them herbal medicines that they cannot acquire locally, believing that the worst-case scenario is that the items may be confiscated at the point of entry.


Dong Hong, a lawyer, noted that the repatriation and a five-year travel ban is considered a light sentence for the offense of carrying medicines containing narcotics. He said most people caught carrying contraband would argue a lack of knowledge, stressing that they were just doing a favor for a friend — an excuse which would not hold up in court, however.


US customs officials have clarified that foreign drugs, except those certified by the FDA or meant to be consumed during travel, are not allowed into the US.

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