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Guest John Saleh

1,200 Carats of Possible 'Blood Diamonds' Seized at JFK

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Guest John Saleh

Customs and Border Protection officers at JFK International Airport seized almost 1,200 carats in diamonds. The 28 rough diamonds originated from Sierra Leone and were seized because they did not have Kimberley Certificates which are required by the Clean Diamond Trade Act.


The diamonds were destined for Brentwood, N.Y. and had a declared value of more then $800,000.


Two U.S. jewelers, arriving from Sierra Leone via London, declared that they were transporting rough diamonds and 57 pounds of gold dust. The two U.S. citizens, whose names are being withheld for privacy reasons, were referred for a baggage exam to verify proper documentation for entry. Unset stones are generally duty free when imported from most countries; however, a formal entry must be filed on all rough diamonds and all required documents must be available for inspection.


The two individuals were unable to produce the required Kimberley Certificates, and consequently their shipment of diamonds was seized. These individuals were released with their shipment of gold dust.



The Clean Diamond Trade Act, signed into law in 2003, was established to block the trade of Conflict Diamonds, also known as “Blood Diamonds.” The United States in conjunction with the United Nations requires that participating nations ensure that all rough diamonds that are imported and exported have undergone certification under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. This process requires its members to ensure and certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering into legitimate trade.



The Kimberley Process is open to all countries that are willing and able to apply its requirements, and currently has 49 members representing 75 countries.



Even though Customs and Border Protection has not verified whether the seized diamonds are derived from conflict areas, it is obligated to ensure that all requirements for legitimate trade are in compliance. “This seizure only reiterates Customs and Border Protection’s commitment to enforcing trade laws while facilitating legitimate commerce,” said Robert E. Perez, director, CBP field operations, New York.



U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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