Thousands of patches to be worn by U.S. Customs Service employees commemorating the agency's 200th anniversary were seized by the department's own inspectorsas an illegal shipment from Canada.

The shipment of 5,000 patches was seized Thursday at a Peace Bridge warehousein Buffalo, N.Y., after agents noticed that the packages violated federal regulations requiring a label specifying the country of origin, said Robert Tobias, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.Commissioner William van Raab had ordered the patches earlier this year and issued directives that they be sewn on every Custom employee's uniform to commemorate the agency's 1989 bicentennial, Tobias said.

"We have buy-in-America in all our contracts and this contractor inadvertently had some patches made in Toronto rather than Buffalo," said George King, a union spokesman. "The inspector who found it, doing his job, just happens to be the president of the union local up there."