Friday, October 8, 2010

Customs Agents Seize $21M in Counterfeit Items at Cincinnati Airport

Operation Safe Summer with agents from Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations discovered a variety of counterfeit items including counterfeit drugs.

As reported by Dan Horn and posted on-line at on September 28th, the seizures are part of a nationwide campaign by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to crack down on imports of knock-off products, which cost American companies and consumers hundreds of millions of dollars a year:

• Most of the counterfeit items came from China and all were seized between Sept. 7 and Sept. 17 as they passed through DHL's hub at the airport.

• "Pretty much anything that can be counterfeited, we came across," said Brian Bell, spokesman for Customs and Border Protection. "They were very good. The Chinese have perfected the art of duplicating our products."

• U.S. officials have said for years that the theft of intellectual property through counterfeit goods poses a major threat to the U.S. economy and to consumers, who could spend thousands of dollars for lower quality products or suffer injury because of defective parts or dangerous medicine.

• Federal agents seized almost 15,000 counterfeit shipments valued at more than $260 million nationwide last year, with China accounting for 79 percent of the illegal imports.

• The value of seizures dropped for the first time in 2009 - down from $272 million in 2008 - but federal officials say that may be because the global economic downturn reduced all imports by 25 percent. Until last year, intellectual property seizures increased steadily from about $93 million in 2005.

• He said counterfeiters are savvy, fast and getting better at mastering the technology needed to produce believable fakes. When the iPad came out earlier this year, Bell said, border protection officers began seizing knock-off versions within weeks. "The importation of counterfeit merchandise really damages the U.S. economy," he said.

• He said the DHL hub at the airport was targeted because so many goods pass through each day, not because the problem is worse here. He said DHL cooperated with federal officials and, as the shipping company, was not responsible for verifying the authenticity of the products it was paid to fly overseas.

• Criminal charges against the manufacturers of the counterfeit goods are unlikely because they are based overseas.

The fact that counterfeit products and dangerous fake drugs are becoming a semi-mainstream global export from emerging economies is very troubling and a significant threat.

This type of law enforcement confiscation, which will not likely lead to many if any criminal charges is becoming all too much the norm and represents a small fraction of the amount that comes into this country on a daily basis.

Industry leaders and consumers around the globe need to insist on regulatory/enforcement measures and need to take proactive steps to protect themselves from harmful goods that threaten populations.

To read the Mr. Horn’s article, visit:

To learn more about pharmaceutical anti-counterfeiting technologies, visit:

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