SAVANNAH, Ga. - More than $3 million in counterfeit goods have been seized by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2010 in the Port of Savannah.
ICE and CBP held a joint briefing today at the CBP Operations Center in Savannah to highlight the intellectual property rights enforcement efforts that both agencies have undertaken in the region.
"The trafficking of counterfeit goods is a global enterprise that robs legitimate companies of billions of dollars in revenue every year," said Jason Gialanella, resident agent in charge in Savannah. "What's more, these sales generate profits that often go to support other types of criminal activity. No one should ever consider this a victimless crime."
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 investigations focus not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.
ICE manages the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which plays a pivotal role in the U.S. government's domestic and international law enforcement attack on IPR violations. ICE agents and CBP personnel throughout the country rely upon the IPR Coordination Center for guidance in their inspections and investigations. In addition to agents at the IPR Center and around the country, DHS uses its 61 ICE Attaché Offices located in 44 countries to combat counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR center partners include the Federal Bureau of Investigation and CBP, which bring resources to the fight as well.
Stopping the flow of fake goods is a priority for the U.S. government, and CBP has designated intellectual property rights enforcement as a Priority Trade Issue. As a result of the government's joint effort, CBP has seized 30 shipments of counterfeit goods since October 1, 2009 to date. The goods, which were destined to be sold in American markets, had a domestic value of more than $3.1 million.
"CBP in Savannah is on the front line of IPR enforcement," said John Porter, CBP area port director in Savannah. "Our officers, import specialists and fines and penalty officers make every effort to ensure fraudulent merchandise does not reach the American consumer."
CBP's strategic approach to IPR enforcement is multi-layered and includes seizing fake goods at our borders, pushing the border outward through audits of infringing importers and cooperation with our international trading partners, and partnering with industry and other government agencies to enhance these efforts. CBP provides considerable resources, diverse personnel and focused training to respond to IPR issues. In FY 2009, 14,841 seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods with a total domestic value of $260.7 million were made by CBP and ICE nationwide.