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Intellectual Property Rights
02/15/2013

HSI, local partners seize $5 million in counterfeit goods from Puerto Rican retailer

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), seized approximately $5 million in counterfeit merchandise during a four-day operation dubbed Forged Dreams, Valentine's Blitz. The operation took place Sunday through Wednesday with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), San Juan Police Department, Puerto Rico Department of Treasury, Puerto Rico Health Department and industry representatives.

"The creation, smuggling and sale of counterfeit goods are not victimless crimes," said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "The production and distribution of counterfeit products harms trademark holders, enriches organized crime groups and is detrimental to local businesses and communities who derive no financial gain from the illegal sales. HSI is committed to an aggressive approach towards enforcing the nation's intellectual property rights laws."

HSI special agents and partner law enforcement officers impacted 15 retailers of counterfeit goods at prominent locations in the Puerto Rican municipalities of Carolina, Toa Baja, Caguas, Bayamon, Guaynabo and San Juan. The seized items include counterfeit designer clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, handbags, sunglasses and sportswear with a total manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $4,788,032. The 39 infringed trademarks include Armani, Beats by Dr. Dre, Billabong, Breitling, Britto, Bvlgari, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Cartier, Channel, Casio, Coach, Ferrari, Gucci, Guess, Hermes, Hublot, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Michael Khors, Montblanc, Nautica, Nixon, Oakley, Pandora, Prada, Polo, Quicksilver, Rado, Ray Ban, Ripcurl, Roger Dubois, Rolex, Swatch, Techno Marine, Tiffani, Tous, Victoria's Secret and Volcom.

This is the third multi-million seizure of counterfeit goods by HSI in the past three months. During a two-day operation in December 2012, HSI special agents and their partners impacted 17 retailers of counterfeit goods in the municipalities of Bayamon, Caguas, Canovanas, Ponce and San Juan. They seized 4,749 counterfeit items infringing on the trademark of more than 38 brands. The total MSRP of the seized goods was approximately $2 million. In September 2012, HSI special agents seized more than $18 million in counterfeit contact lenses and other merchandise during the execution of several search warrants in eight municipalities.

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. HSI investigations focus not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind such activity.

This investigation was supported by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.

For more information on the IPR Center please visit www.IPRCenter.gov.

HSI encourages the public to report intellectual property rights violations and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by visiting www.ICE.gov/tips. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.