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Recent Seizures Highlight On-going U.S. Efforts to Prevent Entry of Illegal Goods

Several recent seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection highlight on-going efforts by U.S. authorities to prevent the entry into the United States of illicit, unsafe or otherwise violative goods. Officers in Miami performed at least two separate seizures in June involving merchandise worth nearly US$9 million. The Miami Seaport Trade Enforcement Team on 12 June announced the seizure of 11,165 counterfeit watches with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of US$2.8 million. The watches were shipped from mainland China in 123 cartons destined for Florida. Enforcement officers suspected the watches were counterfeit because they did not appear to be of quality consistent with the watches that are normally manufactured by the trademark holder. After samples were submitted to CBP import specialists for review, the watches were confirmed to be counterfeit.

In a separate action, CBP officers at the Miami International Airport on 16 June seized 720 pieces of piratical jewellery with a MSRP of over US$6 million. The jewellery arrived in a shipment from Hong Kong and bore a non-genuine copyrighted design. After selecting the shipment for inspection officers immediately noticed that the merchandise was imitation jewellery that bore a false, non-genuine copyright clearly piratical to the federally recorded copyright. Miami International Airport Director Christopher Maston described the seizure as "another perfect example of the exceptionally skilful CBP officers and CBP import specialists at our ports of entry."

CBP also conducted a joint operation with the French Customs General Directorate from 8 April through 4 May that resulted in the seizure of 76 shipments comprising more than 31,000 counterfeit personal care products and electric personal care devices with a combined MSRP of US$541,000. The operation focused on personal care products and devices that potentially introduce dangerous chemicals and bacteria to the skin and eyes, pose burning or electrocution hazards due to non-standardised wiring or provide ineffectual family planning protection to consumers, including make-up, condoms, hair removal devices, contact lenses, hair curlers, straighteners and skin cleansing devices. Assistant CBP Commissioner Brenda Smith observed that "Operation Bathe and Beaute reflects our ongoing efforts to interdict illegal trade in counterfeit merchandise, which threatens the competitiveness of legitimate businesses and can jeopardize consumer health and safety."

Also worth mentioning is a 18 June seizure by CBP officers based in Tampa of a shipment of counterfeit toys from mainland China with a MSRP of more than US$9,000. The officers selected the shipment for inspection and immediately noticed that the goods were substantially indistinguishable from the federal registered copyrighted design. The officers provided samples to CBP import specialists, who recommended seizing the counterfeit toy sets.

CBP indicates that on a typical day in fiscal year 2014 CBP officers around the country seized counterfeit goods worth more than US$3.4 million. CBP made more than 23,000 seizures of counterfeit goods worth an estimated US$1.2 billion in FY 2014.

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