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March 4, 2021Laredo, TX, United StatesContraband

HSI, CBP seize $14.7 million in counterfeit electronics at South Texas’ World Trade Bridge

LAREDO, Texas — In a joint effort, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Feb. 9 seized $14.7 million in counterfeit electronics devices, toys and furniture infringing on multiple CBP-registered trademarks at the World Trade Bridge.

HSI’s Border Enforcement Security Task (BEST) Force Financial/Commercial Fraud Group and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Electronics and Machinery Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs) seized the counterfeit goods.

On Feb. 9, a CBP officer referred a commercial shipment of electronic devices for a secondary examination at the World Trade Bridge. During a thorough examination and review, CBP officers, import specialists and HSI special agents from the Laredo Trade Enforcement Coordination Center (TECC), discovered that the shipment allegedly contained false authorization letters purporting approval from more than 15 trademarks recorded with CBP for electronic devices, toys and furniture. The merchandise included earphones, mobile phone chargers, gaming controllers, USB cables, digitizers, keyboards, smartphone watch bands and phone cases.

The total manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) value, had the items been legitimate, was $14.7 million.

“Trafficking counterfeit merchandise hurts legitimate business and poses a significant public safety risk as the individuals prey on unsuspecting consumers who believe they are getting name-brand products at a reduced price,” said Timothy Tubbs, deputy special agent in charge of HSI Laredo. “Together with our Laredo Trade Enforcement Coordination Center law enforcement partners, HSI will continue to engage in an unrelenting pursuit of individuals who attempt to profit from the illegal trafficking of counterfeit products.”

“This significant seizure is attributable to the dedicated work of our Machinery and Electronics Center import specialists and CBP officers across the country working with our HSI partners to identify, detect and interdict a large quantity of counterfeit electronics goods attempting to enter the U.S.,” said Center Director Juan J. Porras, Machinery CEE. “Their continued hard work helps us to safeguard the revenue and protect American companies and ultimately consumers from inferior and unsafe counterfeit goods that undercut legitimate products and from paying higher prices at retail stores.”

After the seizure of 618 boxes and 40 bags of merchandise for alleged trademark infringement, the case was turned over to HSI as part of a collaborative effort with CBP’s Electronics and Machinery CEEs. The investigation is ongoing.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS and a vital U.S. asset in combatting transnational crime and threats. One of HSI’s top priorities is to protect the public from crimes of victimization, and HSI’s child exploitation investigations program is a central component of this mission set. HSI is recognized as a global leader in this investigative discipline, and is committed to utilizing its vast authorities, international footprint and strong government and non-government partnerships to identify and rescue child victims, identify and apprehend offenders, prevent transnational child sexual abuse, and help make the internet a safer place for children.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196

Updated: 03/11/2021