U.S. Customs Service officials have seized more than $50,000 in gold and held up about 30,000 pounds of goods--including VCRs, sunglasses and baseball caps--in a crackdown on illegal assistance flowing from the United States to Vietnam.
The goods, mostly from the Little Saigon area of Westminster in Orange County, were seized in raids Oct. 14 and 22 at an Air France storage room at Los Angeles International Airport, officials said.
Under a U.S. trade embargo, only humanitarian gifts, such as food, clothing and medicine, can be sent to Vietnam. The embargo prohibits sending more than $100 in cash a month or packages valued at more than $400 per month.
Officials say refugees send an estimated $90 million to $200 million in currency and goods annually to Vietnam, much of it in violation of the embargo.
Mai Cong, president of the Vietnamese Community Center in Orange County, said the government needs to clarify the law. “For many years people assumed it was OK to send things to Vietnam,” she said.