Jennifer Brinkley of North Carolina says when saw a line of law enforcement vehicles coming up her driveway earlier this month she didn't know what to think. "I haven't done anything wrong."
According to WBTV, the Homeland Security agents were not there to take her away, they were looking for illegally imported Land Rover Defenders.
It was a task government officials were performing in several states in early July. Forums on defendersource.com contain posts from Defender owners claiming their vehicles were seized by the government.
All vehicles coming into the United States must meet U.S. safety and emissions standards. Many British manufactured Land Rover Defenders do not.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) has a general rule that a motor vehicle “less than 25 years old must comply” with all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards to be imported. For the EPA, the car must be at least 21 years old.
So older and dirtier vehicles can be imported legally, as long as they are at least 25 years old.
In recent years, there have been cases where importers have illegally changed the VIN to make a vehicle seem older to get it into the United States.
A federal lawsuit filed in May in North Carolina lists dozens of Land Rover vehicles with VIN numbers the government is looking for that may have been brought in illegally. Jennifer Brinkley's was on that list.
The Department of Homeland Security website states that the organization, “has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats we face. This requires the dedication of more than 240,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector. Our duties are wide-ranging, but our goal is clear - keeping America safe.”
Incidents like Brinkley's show that DHS's “wide-ranging” duties include “keeping America safe” from cars that don’t meet EPA emission standards. Even after the vehicles have entered the country and have been sold to private citizens.