SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico. - Approximately 2,000 pieces of counterfeit merchandise were seized this afternoon in Old San Juan following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.
The investigation, which began earlier this year, yielded intelligence regarding seven kiosks in the Old San Juan area that were selling counterfeit goods such as handbags, sunglasses and shirts of Coach, Tous, Dolce & Gabana, and Lacoste brand names.
Intellectual property rights (IPR) violations involve the illegal use of trademarks, trade names and copyrights. It is estimated that the U.S. industry alone loses $200 to $250 billion and a total of 750,000 American jobs to counterfeiting annually.
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. ICE is committed to working with its law enforcement partners to protect legitimate businesses involved in the manufacturing, importation and distribution of licensed commodities from unscrupulous counterfeiters.
"In recent years, the proliferation of counterfeit goods is increasing at an alarming rate," said Manuel Oyola Torres, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. ICE investigations into these intellectual property rights violations focus not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity."
ICE, along with its DHS partner U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), made nearly 14,000 seizures last fiscal year. ICE investigations in fiscal year 2007, resulted in 241 arrests, 149 indictments and 134 convictions on IPR violations. During fiscal year 2007, ICE and CBP seized counterfeit or pirated merchandize worth approximately $200 million in domestic value, exceeding the value of the previous year's seizures by 27 percent.
Anyone with information related to counterfeit merchandise is encouraged to contact law enforcement. Those with information may contact ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline by dialing 1 (866) DHS-2ICE.
To date, no arrests have been made; however, the ICE investigation into this case continues.