Shipments with a voluminous amount of counterfeit consumer goods are usually transported in maritime cargo, so Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers were surprised to encounter two women who recently arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport from Qatar with 806 counterfeit items packed into 21 checked suitcases.
The 806 items, which included fake designer brand jewelry, watches, clothes, shoes, sunglasses and handbags, under the brand names Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Gucci, Hermes, Prada and Versace, among others, would have had a combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1.07 million if authentic.
Even the 21 suitcases that the fake goods were packed into were counterfeit, CBP said. The two women, U.S. lawful permanent residents living in Virginia, arrived from Doha, Qatar on Aug. 8. A CBP officer referred the women to a secondary examination area to complete a formal entry for the commercial goods in their baggage.
CBP officers then suspected that the goods were counterfeit and detained the goods for a more thorough inspection. Officers inventoried 806 items and submitted documentation of the inventory to CBP’s Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising (CPMM), and the Apparel, Footwear and Textile (AFT) Centers of Excellence and Expertise.
CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise, which are the agency’s trade experts, worked with trademark holders and by Sept. 27 determined that all 806 pieces were counterfeit. CBP officers completed the seizure on Sept. 29, the agency said Thursday.
“This might be one of the most uniquely large counterfeit goods seizures that Customs and Border Protection officers have seen in regular passenger baggage,” said John Jurgutis, acting area port director for the Area Port of Washington, D.C. “We know that the illicit trade in counterfeit consumer goods steals revenue from American businesses, threatens consumers with potentially unsafe products, and funds transnational criminal organizations, and CBP officers will continue to strike back at this illicit enterprise while protecting American consumers.”
CBP protects businesses and consumers through an aggressive Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement program. During fiscal year 2020, CBP reported 26,503 counterfeit goods seizures worth an estimated MSRP in excess of $1.3 billion, if the goods were authentic. That comes out to about $3.6 million in counterfeit goods seizures daily.