GSA Builds a State-of-the-Art Federal Inspections Laboratory for CBP at JFK International Airport

Display case with various counterfeit merchandise captured at the JFK International Airport in Queens, New York.
Display of various counterfeit merchandise at the JFK International Airport in Queens, New York. (Photo by Deborah Croft)

By Deborah Robin Croft

New York - What do a counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag, a fake World Series Trophy and a baggie of Fentanyl have in common? These are only a few of the contraband items that have been identified and secured at one of the Nation’s busiest airports.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony in the International Mail Facility at the JFK International Airport in Queens, New York, on January 29, 2024, officials from GSA, CBP, ATF, FDA and other partner agencies celebrated the opening of CBP’s state-of-the-art Forward Operating laboratory that will help law enforcement agencies more quickly and efficiently save lives, time, and a great deal of money by tracking and stopping the spread of illegal drugs and other contraband materials into the United States.

“GSA is proud to have had the opportunity to support CBP’s Operations Support/Laboratories and Scientific Services,” said Regional Administrator for GSA’s Northeast and Caribbean Region, Francis A. Thomas. “By designing and building this facility, GSA continues to improve the federal government’s law enforcement capabilities, with several ongoing construction projects in support of the government’s mission.”

GSA Regional Administrator Fran Thomas tours CBP’s   modernized Forward Operating laboratory.
Regional Administrator Fran Thomas tours the Forward Operating laboratory with CBP to witness the state-of-the-art modernization of its facility.

The New York Lab is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to ISO/IEC 17025 for testing laboratories. The CBP’s Laboratories and Scientific Services (LSS) New York Laboratory provides services to CBP, other DHS components, and federal partners in the northeastern U.S. The Laboratory also provides scientific and forensic testing that assists with CBP’s trade and law enforcement missions.

Law enforcement forensic services include analyses of controlled substances, latent fingerprint lifting, digital data extraction, forensic photography, production of sham narcotics, and crime scene processing. 

Beyond laboratory testing, mobile operations are conducted throughout the Laboratory’s Service area for on-site analyses of suspected controlled substances and screening of potentially dangerous materials at ports of entry. 

For trade enforcement, scientific services include analyses of commodities imported into the U.S. including inorganic products, organic chemicals and products, food products, petroleum, textiles, footwear, raw sugar, polymers, plastics, and paper. 

For these products, lab analysts provide scientific testing that supports classification as per the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, address consumer product safety issues, drawback claims, import fraud, quota calculations, counterfeit analysis, Enforce and Protect Act investigations, country of origin analysis, and export controls.  

A vital part of GSA’s work is to assist federal agencies by designing, enhancing and building superior workplace solutions in a timely fashion and at the best value to the American taxpayer. 

“The ribbon cutting today is the result of partnerships among the US Department of Homeland Security/Customs & Border Protection, US Postal Service, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and the General Services Administration, said Larry “Dave” Fluty, Assistant Commissioner Operations Support/Laboratory and Scientific Services, Customs & Border Protection for the US Department of Homeland Security.

“GSA is of course our partner for all our Forward Operating Laboratory, (FOL) facilities, and so with the planned additional eight to ten FOLs along the northern and southern border to go along with those already in place, we look forward to this cooperative effort with GSA in the future.”

For more information about GSA’s Public Buildings Service, Northeast and Caribbean Region, please visit the Region’s website.