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The U.S. Customs Service's mission since 1789 has been to collect the revenue on imports and to prevent improper entry of goods. During fiscal year 1977, over $152 billion worth of merchandise was imported which required the inspection of merchandise for 7.4 million shipments, inspection of 3.9 million freight carriers, and processing of about 3.7 million separate commercial cargo entries. This workload forces Customs either to perform very limited inspections or to seriously impede the flow of imported cargo.

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