The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division has taken down a Laredo, Texas-based criminal network who had over 181,000 counterfeit goods in their possession which were destined for Mexico at a value of over $42.9 million dollars.
The organization believed to be responsible for the counterfeiting operation was also struck back in May by ICE HSI, in which they were then found to be in the possession of $16.1 million in counterfeit goods, making the two total seizures worth a whopping $59 million dollars and over 260,000 pieces of garments, consumer electronics, cosmetics, and jewelry.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized a total of 795 shipping boxes, all of which used fraudulent and nonexistent return addresses, that contained the 181,615 pieces of trademark-infringed merchandise in this particular raid.
Authorities say that the products included top designer-named counterfeit brands such as Adidas, Apple, Calvin Klein, Casio, Chanel, Coach, Diesel, Fendi, Gucci, Hugo Boss, LG, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Nike, Rolex, Samsung, Sony, Under Armor, Yves St. Laurent; and DC and Marvel Comics.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">ICE seizes 181,000 counterfeit items worth nearly $43 million in Laredo, Texas <a href="https://t.co/jnx3EZtstL">https://t.co/jnx3EZtstL</a> <a href="https://t.co/wpyHb3HPpn">pic.twitter.com/wpyHb3HPpn</a></p>— ICE (@ICEgov) <a href="https://twitter.com/ICEgov/status/1015286897667522561?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 6, 2018</a></blockquote>
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This HSI-led investigation is being assisted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Field Operations, Mexican Customs and representatives from the trademark industry.
“Criminal elements use every and any opportunity to sell substandard and counterfeit goods to the American public,” said Acting Deputy Special Agent in Charge Jesus Adrian Flores, HSI Laredo. “HSI special agents are committed to collaborating with industry representatives and law-enforcement agencies to crack down on counterfeiting that significantly hurts local economies and funnels money into criminal organizations involved in additional illicit activities.”
Homeland Security adds that they believe the counterfeit merchandise originates in China before making its way into the United States of America into the hands of the Mexican Criminal Network responsible for the transport and distribution of the counterfeited goods into Mexico.
These product counterfeits from China are believed to cost the United States of America and private businesses and corporations around the globe trillions of dollars annually in lost sales, many times deceiving buyers over the internet who believe they're paying for the name-brand itself, hurting the bottom line of American-based companies.
This factors into recent trade negotiations with China by President Trump, who is fully aware of the effort from the Chinese to undermine the American economy and ignore both copyrights and patents that endure the survival of the American worker and industries which manufacture these goods.
smugglers who typically transport illicit goods into Mexico often fail to file required export documents through CBP’s Automated Commercial Environment; they exploit the ports of entry by clandestinely smuggling merchandise to Mexico. Once in Mexico, the smugglers bribe Mexican cartels who often extort Mexican regulatory and law enforcement officials so that the merchandise passes without being inspected or paying import duties.
The HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), made up of 23 different federal agencies and four international agencies and oversees enforcement activities targeting the trafficking of counterfeit goods. Last fiscal year, HSI and its sister agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, made more than 28,000 seizures involving counterfeit goods with an estimated value of almost $1.4 billion. The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition estimates intellectual property crime costs U.S. businesses several hundred billion dollars per year in lost revenues.
Anyone with information about the sale of counterfeit items can submit a tip at<a href="https://www.iprcenter.gov/"> IPRCenter.gov</a> and calls can also be made to the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
To date, no charges have been brought against the network of criminals responsible for either counterfeit goods seizure, although ICE HSI is confident the same entity is behind both.
With the location heading into Mexico for the sale of the goods, it's a hotbed of both criminal drug cartels and Mexican street gangs, of which would likely run their distribution network from Mexico across the internet to deceive would-be buyers into purchasing the goods under the impression they were made by the actual designer.
Thank you, ICE and HSI, and thank you, President Trump, for putting the American businesses and the American worker first again!
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