Tens of millions of dirty and used counterfeit nitrile gloves, some of which are even stained with blood, are being shipped from Thailand to the United States amidst a spike in demand of medical equipment due to COVID-19.
CNN launched an investigation that concluded that companies in Thailand are repackaging used gloves and reselling them worldwide, including the U.S. Thai law enforcement agencies raided warehouses earlier this year belonging to companies who sold reused nitrile gloves abroad. They were horrified to find that workers were using dye to color the used gloves and laundry dryers to dry them after washing.
In February and March, an American company sounded the alarm to Joe Biden’s administration that they had been shipped gloves that were visibly soiled from a company based in Thailand. Though both the Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration were given these warnings, the counterfeit shipments continued to be imported into the country as recently as July.
Tarek Kirschen, a businessman, based in Miami, ordered $2million worth of gloves from Paddy the Room, a Thai-based company. He went on to sell these gloves to an American distributor.
“We start getting phone calls from clients completely upset, and you know, yelling and screaming at us saying, ‘Hey, you screwed us,'” he recalled. “These were reused gloves. They were washed, recycled…Some of them were dirty. Some of them had bloodstains. Some of them had markers on them with dates from two years ago… I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
Kirschen went on to say that he refunded the money to his clients and threw the gloves into a landfill before notifying the FDA.
Louis Ziskin, the owner of the company AirQueen, bought $2.7million-worth of gloves from Paddy the Room through a third party.
“We saw dollar signs. We also saw we had legitimate medical customers who were literally begging for this stuff,” he explained.
Unfortunately, when the gloves arrived, they were made of lower-grade latex or vinyl instead of nitrite, and many of them were used. The gloves were in such poor shape that he could not sell them to hospitals in good conscience.
In an attempt to recoup his $2.7 million, Ziskin traveled to Thailand, where he was arrested for assault and kidnapping after a confrontation in a Bangkok restaurant. He has since denied these charges.
“I’m going to see this through to the very end,” he pledged. “Am I going to get my money back for the company? Most likely not. Are we bringing a light to this to where hopefully, the United States can get up off the bench and stop it? Yeah. If that’s what justice is, then that’s what my hope is.”
Thai officials have said that this investigation is ongoing.