A company in Thailand has allegedly shipped up to tens of millions of used nitrile gloves — some “visibly soiled … even blood-stained” — to U.S. companies since at least February, according to a CNN investigation published Monday.
“A months-long CNN investigation has found that tens of millions of counterfeit and second-hand nitrile gloves have reached the United States, according to import records and distributors who bought the gloves,” the left-wing U.S. news outlet reported on October 25.
U.S. and Thai authorities are currently conducting criminal investigations into the allegedly fraudulent glove trade.
Two U.S.-based companies warned U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February and March this year they received “shipments filled with substandard and visibly soiled gloves” from a company in Thailand named Paddy the Room, according to CNN.
Miami-based businessman Tarek Kirschen, the owner of one of the companies, “ordered about $2 million of gloves from … Paddy the Room, which he then sold to a US distributor,” the news outlet reported.
“These were reused gloves. They were washed, recycled,” Kirschen told CNN. “Some of them were dirty. Some of them had bloodstains. Some of them had markers on them with dates from two years ago.”
“The other company, US Liberty LLC had a very similar experience with Paddy the Room,” according to CNN.
US Liberty LLC warned the U.S. CBP and U.S. FDA in March it had received substandard nitrile gloves from both Paddy the Room and a separate company based in Vietnam.
The shipments contained “gloves with holes, with stains, ripped, and in different shades and colors,” US Liberty LLC President Firas Jarrar told CNN.
The U.S. FDA in August issued an alert to “all its port staff that shipments from Paddy the Room should be subject to detention without physical examination,” according to CNN.
The FDA’s notice about the gloves came five months after Kirschen first warned the federal agency about Paddy the Room. The federal agency refused to comment to CNN about its investigation into the Thai company. Officials for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed to the news outlet “there is an ongoing criminal investigation” into Paddy the Room.
Agents for Thailand’s own Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raided a warehouse associated with Paddy the Room outside of Bangkok in December 2020 following domestic reports about the company’s allegedly illicit glove exports.
During the initial raid, the Thai FDA “found piles of garbage bags filled with loose gloves — of different colors, materials, and quality,” according to CNN. “Workers at the warehouse were stuffing the old gloves into new, counterfeit Sri Trang boxes branded ‘SriTrang’ — a well-known and legitimate gloves producer in Thailand.”
“Some of the gloves were shipped from warehouses in Bangkok using boxes belonging to manufacturer Sri Trang, which reportedly denied involvement,” the Thai news outlet Coconuts Bangkok reported Monday.
Sri Trang representatives told CNN this week the company does not conduct business with Paddy the Room.
Thailand’s FDA later arrested the owner of the Paddy the Room Bangkok-area warehouse, a person identified only as a resident of Hong Kong. Thai authorities were unable to bring charges against the tenant for unknown reasons.
The Deputy Secretary-General of Thailand’s FDA, Supattra Boonserm, told CNN that months after the December 2020 raid of Paddy the Room’s Bangkok facility, the agency raided another similar warehouse.
“They just moved to another location, to another warehouse,” she said, suggesting Thai authorities have failed to halt Paddy the Room’s operation.