Thailand was the source of tens of millions of used medical gloves exported to the United States, according to a months-long investigation reported Sunday by CNN.
A Thai supplier called Paddy The Room Trading Co. supplied forged inspection records certifying millions of dollars worth of gloves sent abroad to meet high demand caused by the pandemic. Investigations in both countries are underway into the gloves, many of which were used or of lower quality than labeled.
“Just the tip of the iceberg,” said CNN reporter Scott McLean of the illicit trade in which millions of substandard, soiled gloves from Thai companies were shipped to the United States.
Some of the gloves were shipped from warehouses in Bangkok using boxes belonging to manufacturer Sri Trang, which reportedly denied involvement. The report faults U.S. authorities for being slow to act despite being warned by importers.
Authorities in both Thailand and the United States are investigating the cases, CNN noted. The investigations were prompted by an American company’s complaint that it had received shipments filled with used gloves from Paddy the Room.
In Thailand, several raids since late last year led to used gloves repackaged in counterfeit nitrile boxes being confiscated.
The story took a dramatic turn in March when one of the importers, William Ziskin, was arrested in Bangkok and accused of abducting and extorting Taiwanese businessman Wen Yu Chung in an attempt to get his money back. Ziskin was later allowed to leave Thailand.
One Thai FDA official said the illicit trade was difficult to stop.
“They just keep moving around and creating another fake company,” said Thai FDA’s Supattra Boonserm. “Once shut down, they would move to another location.”