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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Like some other forum members, I have had a package of moss bought from a Malaysian eBay vendor confiscated by ICE for not having the "correct paperwork" filed with the Feds. This happened about 3 months ago.

Recently, I've had several calls from someone saying he represents the USDA, though my caller ID would typically say "private caller." After several attempts to reach me during working hours, this person finally got to me later on in the afternoon last week.

I had had a lousy day at work and I wasn't in the best mood, so the call was not pleasant. After notifying me that I had a package confiscated by Customs, I answered that that was true. He said it was because the proper paperwork hadn't been filed by the vendor. I said, "okay." He then said that the plant had been destroyed because it couldn't be identified. Although I really wanted to start talking about the competence of bureaucrats, I just said, "okay."

After asking me about the vendor in question, I looked at my eBay purchases and told him that I couldn't tell him what it was because it was longer than 60 days ago. He told me to "cease" purchasing from overseas vendors.

I told him that he should be on the border stopping illegal aliens from entering the country. I then hung up on him.

If a Federal Marshall knocks on my door, in about 60 more days, with a warrant for failing to follow any US Code concerning the importation of unauthorized plants, I'll be on Fox News before the situation is resolved. If I get cited for MOSS, I'll be talking to every politician from here to DC about priorities...
 

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The thing is that's not his job and keeping foreign plants out of the US is important to our economy. Introduced plant species hurt the environment, fisheries (in our case) and agriculture. Some plants also carry with them pests too like slugs and what not that are dangerous to the US...

He's doing his job. He didn't write the law. You picked an illegal route to plants and you paid for it. There's no reason to be mad at anyone but yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The thing is that's not his job and keeping foreign plants out of the US is important to our economy. Introduced plant species hurt the environment, fisheries (in our case) and agriculture. Some plants also carry with them pests too like slugs and what not that are dangerous to the US...

He's doing his job. He didn't write the law. You picked an illegal route to plants and you paid for it. There's no reason to be mad at anyone but yourself.

He's harassing a private citizen. The feds don't enforce the law concerning illegal aliens, but Customs is looking for plants... Maybe he needs to be looking for noxious aquatic weeds at the border. What was MY illegal route, Houston?
 

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He's harassing a private citizen. The feds don't enforce the law concerning illegal aliens, but Customs is looking for plants... Maybe he needs to be looking for noxious aquatic weeds at the border.
It seems that he was just looking to see where you got the plants from to make sure that seller doesn't move any plants into the US illegally. Bringing in borders is pretty close minded. You realize we have OTHER international borders other than the one along mexico and canada right? That's his job. There are departments in the government for a reason. You were in the wrong this time so just suck it up and buy in the US or through a licensed importer next time.

Keep whining about illegal aliens all you want. Just don't do it on this forum, especially when you're supporting business that breaks the law.
 

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He's harassing a private citizen. The feds don't enforce the law concerning illegal aliens, but Customs is looking for plants... Maybe he needs to be looking for noxious aquatic weeds at the border. What was MY illegal route, Houston?
He did look for them at the border(port of entry).

Don't knowingly break the law and then complain about it. I wouldn't expect a lot of sympathy here. All the guy was doing is following up on what I am sure is a series of larger investigations relating to this seller.

If you don't want the Federal Government to get in your business, I suggest you not use their services to commit your crimes.

Being a private citizen of the United States means you are subject to the laws of the United States. While using the services of the United States, please use caution when you take calculated risks to break rules and laws. Use even more caution when whining about it, as we're not sympathetic to it.
 

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Not everybody that buys from ebay, etc, knows if they are breaking a law or not.
I am just getting into plants, and I was looking at something on AquaBid. Previously, I ONLY looked at USA vendors - because of the reports of mail taking so long from overseas that the plants died. I found a cool plant I wanted to try - I saw the only seller was from overseas (probbaly the same seller). I checked, and they also sell on eBay. When I checked their feedback on both sites, I saw the negatives were about dead plants, or plants confiscated by customs. I didn't even think about customs! Some of us are not all that "with it" when it comes to thing like that, we're just the occasional auction shopper.
I chickened out and posted a WTB here instead, and don't you know I got one within an hour!
My point is WE, the buyer, shouldn't have to police the auction sites. If THEY, the auction sites, know they have sellers with repeated issues like that are legal in nature, why aren't they banned from selling until they resolve the paperwork or whatever it is?
~ Cindy ~
 

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You may be a private citizen but once you import plants into the country illegally you are breaking the law.
That means you are on federal turf. You won't get much love from people in the forum if you start complaining to the news.

Next time, go through aphis, get the permit.
Pay for the photo sanitary certificate on the exporter side.
Import into this country legally by paying the import/duty fee.
Enjoy paying the freight charge on plants.

Oh.

If you're looking for something, contact members in the forum first.
Need plants? Contact me. As long as they aren't blacklisted I'll get what you want.

-Gordon
 

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Gordon, is that what everybody that buys from overseas is supposed to do (like on ebay, etc), or is that for retail vendors such as yourself? I assumed auction sellers had to provide all that.
I'm sure a huge % of the population doesn't know there is so much red tape! (or I live in a cave)
It does make tons of sense to post here as a WTB first- this IS the plant place, after all!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Not everybody that buys from ebay, etc, knows if they are breaking a law or not.
I am just getting into plants, and I was looking at something on AquaBid. Previously, I ONLY looked at USA vendors - because of the reports of mail taking so long from overseas that the plants died. I found a cool plant I wanted to try - I saw the only seller was from overseas (probbaly the same seller). I checked, and they also sell on eBay. When I checked their feedback on both sites, I saw the negatives were about dead plants, or plants confiscated by customs. I didn't even think about customs! Some of us are not all that "with it" when it comes to thing like that, we're just the occasional auction shopper.
I chickened out and posted a WTB here instead, and don't you know I got one within an hour!
My point is WE, the buyer, shouldn't have to police the auction sites. If THEY, the auction sites, know they have sellers with repeated issues like that are legal in nature, why aren't they banned from selling until they resolve the paperwork or whatever it is?
~ Cindy ~
That's right, Cindy! Police the vendor, not the buyer. And yeah, I know all the borders. I wonder how many illegals came in from Asia on a container ship while they were opening envelopes. Finally, I'm not looking for sympathy- I'm a 56 year old, former Naval Officer and a Magistrate Judge. I am extremely conservative politically, and I have little regard for the excesses of the Federal Government. My moss' propriety should be a local/state decision. Of course I can wait till the Feds shut down due to no funding and buy anything I want.

Funny how folks chose to attack me personally, though. Says more about them than it does me. And yeah, I may disagree with what y'all say, but I have defended your right to say it... and always will.
 

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How was he harassing you? By doing his job? You realize you can look up your purchase history past 60 days... Just saying. You are also talking about different sectors in the government. Cry all you want about illegal citizens, you were still doing something wrong. You are lucky that they only confiscated the plant there could have been much worse circumstances.

Also, you do realize he was attempting too police the vender by asking where you got it from, but your superiority and ego got in the way. Also, let's be honest, you got it from aquaticsmagic (yes I am going too assume.. you got moss... from [Ebay Link Removed] from malaysia) they ship alot of items into the states so more then likely your item was intercepted in a much larger picture. Aquaticsmagic has over 55k feedbacks and counting and I would imagine alot of those are illegal items being shipped too the states. You might be playing your "worlds smallest violin" thinking you are the only person ever who tries importing plants illegally but if you look at the big picture it is definitely a much larger issue then you are taking into consideration.
 

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That's right, Cindy! Police the vendor, not the buyer. And yeah, I know all the borders. I wonder how many illegals came in from Asia on a container ship while they were opening envelopes. Finally, I'm not looking for sympathy- I'm a 56 year old, former Naval Officer and a Magistrate Judge. I am extremely conservative politically, and I have little regard for the excesses of the Federal Government. My moss' propriety should be a local/state decision. Of course I can wait till the Feds shut down due to no funding and buy anything I want.

Funny how folks chose to attack me personally, though. Says more about them than it does me. And yeah, I may disagree with what y'all say, but I have defended your right to say it... and always will.

The problem isn't with the moss being your property. It is about the potential for disease and pest species to decimate our natural resources. Including your food. How exactly do you think pest species and disease from around the globe have entered our fields and waterways?

Since you seem displeased with the federal system, we kindly ask for your pension and benefits back. Are Magistrate Judges not also part of a federally funded system?

Oh the irony.
 

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That's right, Cindy! Police the vendor, not the buyer.
That is the policy of the USDA regarding the handling of potential plant pest.
State Depts of Agriculture have their own set of laws regarding agricultural plants, as well as the Fed. These are due to economics of trying to control and contain these pest. They have no clue if it's moss or whatever..........they destroy it and then ask the vendor to stop shipping without the correct paperwork so they can track and make sure it is pest free.

I have a tough time ID ing many of the aquatic species that come in and I can tell you this, the folks at the Ag inspection have far far less expertise in taxonomy that I do!!!

So when in doubt, it gets toasted.
They do not have the resources period.
So when the vendors do not have the paper work stating what it is and the phytosanitary certificate, your order gets cooked

This was not your fault really, it was the vendors.

Buying Chinese/Malay/Singaporean goods without any paper work is asking for things to get caught and red flagged.

The USDA is charged with preventing illicit weeds, pest and plants from being imported. These do GREAT economic harm to this country, about 100 Billion$ per year, invasive plants/pest are the 2nd worst threat to native USA endangered species, some of which aquarist keep and love.
Laws, locks, policies just keep the honest people honest. States have the same USDA laws also, as well as additional laws specific to each state on top of the Fed. Then the Counties typically have agriculture commissioner. All these folks at each level have to communicate and work together.

This is the risk you knowingly take and accept as part of this game. They do not have the enforcement to catch every single weed, or illegal for that matter coming in, but if they catch a lot and there's a high risk, then few will do it.

The USDA is less concerned about harassing you personally or a private citizen, they just want to know who is shipping the weeds in, they, to the bets of my knowledge, have NEVER gone after a hobbyist or aquarist. They are concerned about the chain of custody and preventing these vendors from shipping in more weeds, pest etc to the USA.

Prevention is 1000X cheaper to do that once the weed or pest is in the USA.
I'd like to get many plants, but.......I also realize that they might get out into nature and cause harm. Just go through the domestic folks and other hobbyists, you'll get better quality AND BUY AMERICAN.

It's what I do.
 

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How was he harassing you? By doing his job? You realize you can look up your purchase history past 60 days... Just saying. You are also talking about different sectors in the government. Cry all you want about illegal citizens, you were still doing something wrong. You are lucky that they only confiscated the plant there could have been much worse circumstances.

Also, you do realize he was attempting too police the vender by asking where you got it from, but your superiority and ego got in the way. Also, let's be honest, you got it from aquaticsmagic (yes I am going too assume.. you got moss... from [Ebay Link Removed] from malaysia) they ship alot of items into the states so more then likely your item was intercepted in a much larger picture. Aquaticsmagic has over 55k feedbacks and counting and I would imagine alot of those are illegal items being shipped too the states. You might be playing your "worlds smallest violin" thinking you are the only person ever who tries importing plants illegally but if you look at the big picture it is definitely a much larger issue then you are taking into consideration.
I'm sure the USDA has AM red flagged big time.

I have NEVER seen one case where the USDA went after a hobbyists , they do try and seek answers about the vendor..............

How do I know?

I worked for the State and with killing Hydrilla, I also work at the USDA aquatic weed lab in Davis for my research:wink: I'm not employed by the USDA however ( lots of rules there!).

I've seen the enforcement folks, they are really quite reasonable, they just want to stop the importation of the pest. They are not after any hobbyist.
 

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What I don't understand is, why do the auction sites continue to let them sell?
Very few people report it "correctly" and thus the auction sites see a dollar figure.

Aquabid KNOWS they are condoning it....

It says this at the top of the plant pages:
Specific permits are necessary to import specific plants and plant products, into the U.S. and across state borders.
View this page to learn about the specific permits, apply online, and answer questions specific to the type of plant or organism being imported.
And link to this: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/permits/plantproducts.shtml
 
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