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Big Easy Bust: CBP’s $29.5M Seizure Keeps LV, Gucci, Dior Fakes Off the Market

The New Orleans Field Office ports seized $29.53 million worth of counterfeit goods between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30.

The field office predominantly seizes counterfeits in the express consignment environment, with counterfeit luxury clothing and electronics making up the bulk of the seizures. While large express consignment operations can net large-valued seizures in single incidents, the majority of counterfeit seizures come in smaller, targeted operations, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

For example, on Nov. 29 the CBP New Orleans Trade Enforcement Team, working with the Field Intelligence Operations Unit, identified a consignee near Alliance, La., with previous violations for importing counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags, Gucci handbags and Dior wallets totaling $101,832.

The following day, at a New Orleans-area express consignment facility, CBP officers conducted an intensive exam on a nearly 20-pound shipment manifested as “jackets” and valued at only $90. The package consisted of one box containing 16 counterfeit bags; three Louis Vuitton backpacks, three Louis Vuitton handbags, three Louis Vuitton purses, three Gucci messenger bags, three Coach purses and one Saint Laurent purse. The merchandise was shipped from China, a high source country for the manufacture and export of counterfeit merchandise, CBP noted.

Based on the poor quality and circumstances surrounding the importation, the merchandise was detained for further review and ultimately determined to bear counterfeit trademarks.

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Counterfeit goods are poor quality products that cost U.S. businesses billions of dollars a year while robbing our country of jobs and tax revenues,” said Steven Stavinoha, New Orleans director of field operations. “CBP officers throughout my field office remain committed to stopping counterfeit smuggling, taking profits from organized crime and helping protect our communities from potentially hazardous knockoffs.”

CBP data indicates that handbags, wallets, apparel, footwear, watches, jewelry and consumer electronics are at higher risk of being counterfeited. Counterfeit versions of popular brands are regularly sold in online marketplaces and flea markets. Not only are counterfeit goods produced in unregulated and potentially exploitative environments in foreign countries, but the profits from their sales provide a funding stream to organized crime.

The agency said illicit manufacturers continue to exploit the rapid growth of e-commerce to sell counterfeit goods to unsuspecting consumers in the United States. In fiscal year 2021, CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigation seized over 27,000 shipments containing goods that violated intellectual property rights. The total estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the seized goods, had they been genuine, was $3.3 billion.

CBP said counterfeit goods can often be spotted by their inferior quality. Peeling labels, low-quality ink or printing errors on the packaging and loosely packed items in the box can be signs that the product purchased may not be legitimate. Counterfeit apparel and handbags may feature poor or uneven stitching and improperly sized or designed logos.