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U.S., Hong Kong to Share More Than US$20 Million Seized in Apparel Smuggling Probe

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reports that the U.S. and Hong Kong governments will share US$20.5 million in forfeited assets seized as part of a probe into what is believed to be the largest commercial fraud scheme ever uncovered on the West Coast. These assets include more than 200 shipping containers of clothing, a 100,000 square foot warehouse in California, and business and residential locations in California and Texas. Additionally, investigators seized or obtained restraining orders against two dozen bank accounts in the United States and Hong Kong.

According to an ICE press release, this action is the culmination of an investigation originally launched by the former U.S. Customs Service in 2000 into a multinational criminal organisation responsible for smuggling hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of mainland Chinese-made wearing apparel into the United States through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. To avoid import duties and quotas, the organisation’s operatives provided documents to customs brokers falsely stating that the mainland Chinese-made garments were being sold to companies in Mexico when they were being delivered to buyers throughout the United States. Investigators estimated the loss of customs revenues alone at more than US$60 million.

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