Los Angeles, CA–From October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Los Angeles and Long Beach Seaport identified and seized an unprecedented amount of high-value contraband, counterfeit goods, and other prohibited merchandise.
The number of trade enforcement seizures increased by 24% and the overall value of these seizures increased by 652% over the previous year. Officers interdicted counterfeit products that pose a significant risk to public safety such as counterfeit pharmaceuticals and other items such as electronics, high fashion wearing apparel, footwear, jewelry, and accessories. The record-breaking seizures were appraised at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $760,615,994, a 652% increase from the year before.
In addition, officers partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to seize 37 illegally imported pill press machines and 2,305 capsule-filling machines that can be used by drug traffickers to encapsulate narcotics in clandestine labs. The seizure of these machines eliminated the ability of counterfeiters to produce illegally manufactured pharmaceuticals in excess of 1,000,000 capsules per hour.
“The numbers show that the pandemic didn’t slow down smugglers from attempting to illegally introduce their products into the United States threatening the economy and the health and safety of the American consumer,” said Carlos Martel Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “These results reinforce CBP’s commitment to be America’s frontline.”
“CBP officers worked tirelessly throughout the year and were highly successful at stopping transnational criminal organizations from exploiting and endangering consumers,” said Donald Kusser, Customs and Border Protection Port Director of the LA/Long Beach Seaport.
Consumers can take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from counterfeit goods by purchasing goods directly from the trademark holder or from authorized retailers. When shopping online, consumers should read seller reviews and check for a working U.S. phone number and address that can be used to contact the seller.
Federal authorities say trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America’s innovative 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, Customs and Border Protection has developed a proactive and strategic enforcement approach to Intellectual Property Right enforcement.
For more information about the risks associated with purchasing counterfeit goods, visit Customs and Border Protection’s Fake Goods, Real Dangers website, and read the agency’s e-Commerce Awareness Guide. Additional tips on counterfeit goods are available at StopFakes.gov.