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Intellectual Property Rights

'Safe Summer' operations seize tons of potentially harmful counterfeit items in US and Mexico

WASHINGTON - A surge of summer customs enforcement activity netted tons of seized property at express mail hubs around the country and in Mexico under a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) operation called "Safe Summer."

IPR Center partners Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Mexican Tax Administration initiated Operation Safe Summer to target, interdict and investigate the importation of items through the mail that violate intellectual property law, particularly those that pose a threat to public health and safety.

In seven two-week surges from July to September at six express courier consignment facilities and two international mail facilities in the United States and land, air and sea ports of entry and mail facilities in Mexico, 800 seizures and detentions (pending laboratory verification) were made of counterfeit electronic products, pharmaceuticals, critical components (i.e. networking software), automobile airbags, rifle sites, air soft guns, cellular phones, batteries and chargers, and health and beauty products. The exact manufacturers' suggested retail value of the seized and detained items is still being determined, but is estimated to be millions of dollars.

Mexican authorities seized 306 tons of counterfeit merchandise at mail facilities and land, air and sea ports of entry in their country.

"The smuggling of counterfeit goods poses a triple threat to the United States. Most of the items seized in these operations threaten health and safety, rob Americans of jobs, and divert legitimate revenue from responsible industries to the pockets of organized crime," said ICE Director John Morton. "Some of the shoddy goods we encountered could have cost consumers their lives."

Based on previous seizures, investigations and targeting, the IPR Center determined that counterfeit, substandard and tainted items commonly enter the U.S. via international mail facilities and express courier consignment facilities to avoid scrutiny by Customs at ports of entry. Safe Summer operations were undertaken for two-week periods at FedEx facilities in Indianapolis, San Francisco and Newark; DHL facilities at John F. Kennedy International Airport and Cincinnati; UPS facilities in Newark; and international mail facilities in San Francisco and Chicago.

 The IPR Center is one of the U.S. Government's key weapons in the fight against IP theft. The IPR Center offers one-stop shopping for both law enforcement and the private sector to address the growing transnational threat of counterfeit merchandise. The IPR Center coordinates outreach to U.S. rights holders and conducts domestic and international law enforcement training to stem the growing counterfeiting threat as well as coordinating and directing anti-counterfeiting investigations. To learn more about the IPR Center, read tips for holiday buying and see the Intellectual Property Rights Seizure Statistics for FY 2009, go to www.ice.gov.

Report information on counterfeiting and trademark violations at (866) IPR-2060.