Wednesday, August 28, 2013

$1.5 Million in Counterfeit Goods Seized from Puerto Rican Flea Market

U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") officers and import specialists supported special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's ("ICE") Homeland Security Investigations ("HSI"), in seizing approximately $1.5 million in counterfeit and pirated merchandise as part of Operation Forged Dreams. The operation took place Sunday with assistance from CBP, the Puerto Rico Department of Health's Office of Investigations, the Puerto Rico Police Department and the Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs.

During the operation, HSI special agents and partner law enforcement officers targeted 23 retailers of counterfeit and pirated goods at the Arecibo flea market. They seized 10,000 CDs, 50,000 DVDs, 565 watches, 368 video games, 220 pieces of jewelry, 1,161 sunglasses and 204 handbags, among other items, infringing on the trademark of Gucci, Michael Kors, Microsoft, Nintendo, Casio, Ray Ban, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Oakley, Nike, Adidas, Tous, NBA and Pandora. The total manufacturer's suggested retail value (MSRP) of the seized goods is approximately $1.5 million.

This is the fifth seizure of counterfeit and pirated goods by HSI San Juan in the last 11 months. During a four-day operation in February, HSI special agents and their partners targeted 15 retailers of counterfeit goods at prominent locations in the Puerto Rican municipalities of Carolina, Toa Baja, Caguas, Bayamon, Guaynabo and San Juan. The seized items included counterfeit designer clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, handbags, sunglasses and sportswear with an MSRP of $4,788,032. During a two-day operation in December 2012, HSI special agents and their partners targeted 17 retailers of counterfeit goods in the municipalities of Bayamon, Caguas, Canovanas, Ponce and San Juan. They seized 4,749 counterfeit items infringing on the trademark of more than 38 brands. The total MSRP of the seized goods was approximately $2 million. In September 2012, HSI special agents seized more than $18 million in counterfeit contact lenses and other merchandise during the execution of several search warrants in eight municipalities.

Operation Forged Dreams is an HSI San Juan initiative intended to bring a multi-agency and industry united front against individuals and organizations exploiting trade and financial systems by importing, exporting, selling, storing, manufacturing or otherwise handling counterfeit and pirated goods that may present a hazard to public health and safety.

During fiscal year 2012, CBP officers conducted more than 136 seizures related Intellectual Property Rights violations, with a domestic value of approximately $2 million.

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