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Intellectual Property Rights
03/22/2017

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ICE, CBP seize thousands of fake condoms

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized more than 40,000 counterfeit condoms allegedly from China during a five-day period. The investigation is ongoing, so additional details are not available at this time.

ICE, however, wants to alert consumers that counterfeit condoms, as well as cosmetics and beauty products may pose safety risks. Legitimate products are subject to strict quality controls and should only be bought at reputable stores. Counterfeit products, on the other hand, may contain substances that could lead to long-term health problems.

In the past, seized cosmetics have been found to contain hazardous substances including cyanide, arsenic, mercury, lead, urine and rat droppings. Fake condoms will not guard the user against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

“The trafficking of counterfeit goods is simply illegal and in some cases, as this, it becomes a problem of public health and safety and at times threatens national security,” said Ricardo Mayoral, the special agent in charge who oversees HSI operations throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “This illegal activity represents a triple threat as it delivers substandard and often dangerous goods into the economy, robs citizens of good-paying jobs, and generates proceeds that are often funneled back into other criminal enterprises. HSI will continue to work with its enforcement partners to combat the distribution of counterfeit products, like those seized in San Juan this week that could put unwitting consumers at risk.”

To attack the illegal importation of counterfeit goods in Puerto Rico, on Jan. 27, ICE and CBP launched the San Juan Trade Enforcement Coordination Center (TECC). The San Juan TECC is the first federal partnership of its kind in Puerto Rico and 10th in the nation to combat fraudulent foreign trade. The center will identify, inspect and investigate foreign trade suspected of being fraudulently introduced into Puerto Rico. It will initially focus on identifying violations in the areas of misclassification, under evaluation, free trade zone fraud, free trade agreement fraud, transshipment, trade-base money laundering and broker compliance. The center will pursue both criminal and civil violations.

The HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), made up of 23 different federal agencies and four international agencies, and oversees enforcement activities targeting the trafficking of counterfeit goods. Last fiscal year, HSI and its sister agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, made more than 28,000 seizures involving counterfeit goods with an estimated value of almost $1.4 billion. The International Anti-counterfeiting Counterfeiting Coalition estimates intellectual property crime costs U.S. businesses several hundred billion dollars a year in lost revenues.                

Anyone with information about the sale of counterfeit cosmetics can visit the IPR Center website at IPRCenter.gov to submit a tip. Reports can also be made to the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. 

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/27/2017