U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to a mobile enforcement team along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) commercial fraud agents seized six million counterfeit cigarettes during a recent warehouse inspection. The estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $1.1 million.
CBP import specialists with the Agriculture and Prepared Products Center of Excellence and Expertise in Miami examined 600 boxes of counterfeit cigarettes and found multiple trade name protection and trafficking counterfeit goods violations.
Illegal trafficking in cigarettes generates significant profits for criminal organizations and poses a public health risk. Counterfeit cigarettes not only affect trademark owners, but defraud consumers and deprive the government of tax revenue. Consumers think they pay less for a genuine product, when in reality they pay less for a product of substandard quality.
“International counterfeiters will get caught,” said Agriculture and Prepared Products Center Director Dina M. Amato. “This seizure is the latest example of the extraordinary vigilance of CBP personnel with federal partners in Florida thwarting illegal trafficking of counterfeit cigarettes.”
Importers violating intellectual property rights may be subject to civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution. CBP and ICE seized a record number of 34,143 shipments of goods that violated Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) nationwide in Fiscal Year 2017.
The men and women of CBP are responsible for enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations. On a typical day, CBP welcomes nearly 1 million visitors, screens more than 67,000 cargo containers, arrests more than 1,100 individuals and seizes nearly 6 tons of illicit drugs.