Authorities seize US$500 million worth counterfeit goods
The federal government said it had seized enough counterfeit Gucci bags, Hermes belts and Tory Burch purses to fill 22 shipping containers, in a six-year investigation into the importation and sale of fake luxury goods that ended on Thursday with charges filed against 33 people. The individuals were charged with conspiracy, trafficking in counterfeit goods and trademark counterfeiting.
The goods were part of a scheme originating in China that stretched to warehouses in Queens and even to retailers in Illinois and California, officials from Homeland Security Investigations, a branch of the United States Customs and Immigration Enforcement agency, announced at a news conference in New York on Thursday.
“This is the largest investigation that our agency has had regarding the amount of counterfeit items,” Angel M. Melendez, New York’s special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said in an interview.
The goods seized were knockoffs of popular brands, including Gucci, Tory Burch, Hermes, Coach, Burberry, Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton. There was knockoff Chanel perfume, too, which concerned investigators since previous schemes had involved using animal urine instead of the perfume company’s formula.