Importers of articles placed under seizure by Customs as obscene, and therefore subject to condemnation under 19 U.S.C. § 1305, may make a request to the Customs Service, or to the United States Attorney after referral of the matter to him/her for forfeiture action, to be permitted to re-export the articles. To permit re-exportation of an article once a complaint for forfeiture has been filed is inadvisable. The filing of the complaint should represent a final decision by the government that the article is obscene and will sustain forfeiture. To allow re-exportation without an adjudication would fail to carry out the statutory purpose of effecting the destruction of obscene material or to achieve the deterrent effect of forfeiture.
However, prior to filing of a complaint, greater latitude may be exercised with respect to the re-exportation of articles of questionable prosecutive merit. Re-exportation should be permitted only in those cases where the United States Attorney entertains grave doubts as to the possibility of a successful action under 19 U.S.C. § 1305. In the event that an importer approaches the United States Attorney with a request to re-export an article prior to the time such article has been formally referred to the United States Attorney by the Customs Service for his/her evaluation, the importer should be instructed to contact the Customs Service. If Customs officials thereafter informally request the United States Attorney's views concerning the merits of such a request, the United States Attorney should review the article in question and render his/her advice accordingly.
If after formal referral to the United States Attorney but before a complaint has been filed, an importer seeks permission from the United States Attorney to re-export an article and the United States Attorney is of the opinion that re-exportation would comport with the interests of the government, he/she should return the article to the Customs Service stating that a request for re-exportation has been made and that the United States Attorney has no objection to the re-exportation of the article in question.
The Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) will arbitrate any disputes between Customs and the United States Attorney on re-exportation. Because of strict judicial time limitations imposed upon the government in the prosecution of these cases, however, it is imperative that the United States Attorney immediately contact CEOS in the event of such a disagreement.
[updated June 1998] [cited in JM 9-75.510]