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Airline Passenger Had 6 Bags Crammed With $500K in Fake Prada and More

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport completed the seizure last week of counterfeit merchandise in a passenger’s baggage that appraised at more than $500,000, if the items were authentic.

The May 24 seizure started about six weeks earlier when CBP officers referred a Laurel, Md., woman to a secondary baggage inspection after she arrived on a flight from South Korea on April 10. She stated that she returned from Thailand with six pieces of luggage, but declared verbally and in writing that she did not purchase any merchandise on her trip.

However, when airline employees brought the woman’s baggage to the CBP inspection area, they presented 12 bags that were tagged to the traveler. CBP officers then discovered newly purchased and potentially counterfeit clothing in the first two bags they inspected.

When CBP officers completed their inspection of all 12 bags, the amount of potentially counterfeit clothing they found covered four inspection tables. In total, CBP officers detained 298 pieces of clothing, scarves, hats, shoes, and jewelry bearing designed brand names including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, Prada and Gianni Versace.

CBP officers inventoried all 298 items and submitted documentation to CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise, the agency’s trade experts, for a final determination and an appraisal. On May 23, CBP import specialists confirmed that the items were counterfeit and appraised the shipment at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $509,431, had the items been authentic.

CBP is withholding the traveler’s name because she has not been criminally charged.

“Customs and Border Protection officers sometimes encounter counterfeit consumer goods in passenger baggage, but rarely at this brazen volume,” said Daniel Escobedo, CBP’s area port director for Washington, D.C. “The international trade in counterfeit consumer goods is illegal. It steals revenues from trademark holders, steals tax revenues from the government, funds transnational criminal organizations, and the unregulated products potentially threaten the health and safety of American consumers.”

CPB said the last time officers saw such a large volume was last fall, when officers seized more than $1 million in counterfeit consumer goods packed inside the luggage of two women who arrived from Qatar.