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U.S. Customs officers seize counterfeit designer watches at Louisville port, worth $22.5 million

Over 90% of all U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) counterfeit seizures occur in the international mail and express consignment environments. Last week, CBP officers in Louisville seized a parcel containing counterfeit designer watches that, if real, would have had a Manufacturer’s Retailed Price (MSRP) over $22.5 million.

The 584 counterfeit watches bore two trademarked logos: Rolex and Cartier. The shipment was arriving from an individual in Hong Kong and was destined for a resident in Jamaica, New York. Had these watches been real, the MSRP would have been $22.59 million.

“Intellectual property theft threatens America’s economic vitality and funds criminal activities and organized crime,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago Field Office. “Our officers are dedicated to protecting private industry and consumers by removing these kinds of shipments from our commerce.”

E-Commerce sales have contributed to large volumes of low-value, small packages being imported into the United States. During the last four fiscal years, seized counterfeit watches have been worth the most according to their MSRP- last year that total was $1.18 billion. Consumers should make sure they shop from reputable sources online. To learn more about CBP’s E-Commerce strategy, visit CBP’s E-Commerce website.

“Consumers are always looking for the best deal, the unfortunate part is criminals are also online pedaling their counterfeit products,” said Thomas Mahn, Port Director-Louisville. “Our CBP officers will continue to seize counterfeit items that threaten the safety and health of consumers and weaken the U.S. economy.”

This seizure was just one of many that happened that night. Another parcel contained six counterfeit Richard Millie watches that would have been worth $755,000 had they been genuine.

Sold in underground outlets and on third party e-commerce websites, counterfeit commodities fund smugglers and members of organized crime. Consumers often believe they are buying a genuine product but soon realize the item is substandard and potentially dangerous.

Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens America’s innovation, the competitiveness of our businesses, the livelihoods of U.S. workers and, in some cases, the health and safety of consumers and U.S. national security. CBP is on the frontline of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement, partnering with industry, other federal agencies, and foreign governments to fight cross-border trade of harmful and dangerous illicit goods.

When rights holders record their federally registered trademarks and copyrights with CBP, the agency can enforce those rights to protect them at the border. As of September 30, 2021, CBP was enforcing 20,758 active recorded copyrights and trademarks. In FY2021, CBP seized over 27,000 shipments with IPR violations. If the seized products were genuine, the total MSRP of the items would have been valued at over $3.3 billion. This represents a 152% increase compared to FY2020, when goods valued at $1.31 billion MSRP were seized for IPR violations. A return to pre-pandemic trading levels and an overall increase in the number of CBP seizures of counterfeit products account for the significant rise in MSRP.

CBP conducts operations at ports of entry throughout the United States, and regularly screens arriving international passengers and cargo for narcotics, weapons, and other restricted or prohibited products. CBP strives to serve as the premier law enforcement agency enhancing the Nation’s safety, security, and prosperity through collaboration, innovation, and integration.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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