U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to the Los Angeles-Long Beach seaport in coordination with import specialists from the three Centers of Excellence and Expertise seized 57,607 counterfeit products arriving in a containerized cargo shipment from China.
The seized items included 10,117 pieces of wearing apparel and footwear in violation of the Christian Dior, Versace, Gucci, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Nike Air and Swoosh designs and registered and recorded trademarks, as well as 47,490 counterfeit Cialis pills. If genuine, the confiscated merchandise would have had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $12.7 million.
CBP officers, in coordination with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, took hold of all counterfeit items and turned them over to the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Commercial Crimes Division’s Illicit Pharmaceutical and Counterfeit Unit (IPCU) for further investigation.
“CBP, along with our HSI and LAPD strategic partners, form a united front against transnational criminal organizations who attempt to smuggle counterfeit goods that can threaten the health and safety of U.S. consumers, as well as the competitiveness of American businesses,” Carlos C. Martel, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles, said.
Captain III Lillian Carranza, commanding officer of the LAPD’s Commercial Crimes Division, said the primary goal of the LAPD’s IPCU is to identify and disrupt the manufacture, sales and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and merchandise.
“It is vital to maintain partnerships with CBP and HSI to weaken the supply networks and dismantle the businesses of organized crime,” Carranza said.
Available on illegitimate websites and sold in underground outlets, counterfeit commodities multiply the illegal profits of smugglers and traffickers, CBP said. Consumers are tricked into believing they are buying an original product at a significant discount.
“One important aspect of CBP’s vast mission is to protect American consumers and industry from trade fraud,” said Donald R. Kusser, CBP Los Angeles-Long Beach seaport port director. “I am extremely proud of the work performed by CBP Officers at the Los Angeles-Long Beach seaport to prevent illicit goods from entering the United States.”
CBP said consumers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods. They can purchase goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers, and when shopping online, read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and address that can be used to contact the seller. They should review CBP’s “E-Commerce Counterfeit Awareness Guide for Consumers” and remember that if the price of a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America’s innovation economy, the competitiveness of businesses, and, in some cases, national security and the health and safety of consumers. To deter the importation of illicit goods and protect U.S. consumers and businesses, CBP has developed a proactive, aggressive and dynamic enforcement approach to Intellectual Property Right (IPR) enforcement.
In fiscal year 2020, CBP personnel nationwide seized 26,503 shipments containing counterfeit goods that would have been worth nearly $1.3 billion had they been genuine.