SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Santa would roll out of his sleigh if he know how many dangerous toys and electronics were slipping into the Port of Savannah during the holidays.
What better time of year to bombard American shoppers with cheap, hazardous and chemically
laced products than the very time we are all hunting for bargains and blowing cash on whatever it takes to stuff those stockings.
Thursday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection wanted to remind us all that protecting your holiday is still a full time job and the tangled results of their efforts are valued in the billions.
Someone is in for an amazing Christmas. There's a room filled with remote control cars, dolls, ducks and darts, Bluetooths and big screens. Truth is, it's going to be an amazing Christmas because not one of these items will make it under your tree. Every item is a Trojan horse just waiting for an unsuspecting elf.
"The toys that you see behind me have high lead counts or they actually have thiolates that are not suitable for children," said Lisa Beth Brown with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "They can cause health concerns."
What customs laid out for WTOC to see on Thursday is a tiny sampling of what they've seized this season from the container ships that snaked their way up the Savannah River, destined for some local seller. The priority here is always on the toys that are packed with brain numbing lead, or trinkets so small they can choke a child to death before a parent can reach the phone.
It's hard to imagine how on earth custom agents, even with the help of Homeland Security, can find these needles in a haystack. The port accepts nearly four million containers a year. Catching contraband and counterfeits not just here in Savannah, but nationwide is a massive effort.
More than 60,000 men and women take on the task of stopping the Grinch at our ports. The primary goal is, of course, your safety. But there's another reason every dollar spent on this garbage is a dollar into the hands of those who will continue to mess up your life all year long. The money spent on these cool flat screens and toy backhoes offer a gateway into the community of drugs, guns and crime.
"And I'm not sure people always recognize when they are supporting criminal organization when they buy knock-offs and counterfeit goods," Brown insists.
The electronics that fill customs' store houses were picked up because they displayed logos or safety ratings they don't have the rights to. Yes, you can have a 50-inch TV or a fake Beats Bluetooth speaker for next to nothing, until it burns your house down.
Best advice this holiday season and all year long is really quite simple: just know who you're buying from.