According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in the New Orleans Field Office partnered with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for their “Operation Safety Claus”. As indicated by the name of the operation, “Operation Safety Claus” is a joint anti-counterfeiting law enforcement operation in metro New Orleans to target the importation of counterfeit goods during the holiday season.
According to the press release, in the past few weeks, CBP officers have seized items such as makeup, contact lenses, hair products, eyelashes, and clothing. During the Halloween holiday, CBP seized an increase in items like contact lenses, makeup and other cosmetics. CBP warns counterfeit goods may contain bacteria, heavy metals, or other toxins that pose a health risk.
As in all their media releases related to counterfeit goods, CBP highlighted the public safety risk of counterfeit goods, the sale of counterfeit goods to fund illicit activities and crime and restated their counterfeit seizure figures.
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HSI New Orleans Deputy Special Agent in Charge Gilbert S. Trill explained that selling and purchasing counterfeit items is an intellectual property crime, often used to fund international and transnational criminal organizations. These crimes can also have an adverse effect on the United States, in terms of reduced innovation, repressed job markets, and reduced quality. Additionally, it puts the public at risk with little recourse.
“You’re not going to be able to sue an illegal activity or transnational criminal organization,” he said.
On a typical day in 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection alone seized $3.7 million worth of products with Intellectual Property Rights violations, with the IPR industry topping $ billion nationally. Many of these products are shipped through mail facilities throughout the country.
“The discovery and interception of counterfeit merchandise that pose safety hazards to our citizens is an illustration of how CBP works every single day to keep dangerous goods from the commerce of the United States,” said Mark S. Choina, Assistant Port Director, Trade, Port of New Orleans.
The New Orleans office of HSI covers Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, while the New Orleans CBP office covers Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee. For more information on IPR, visit https://www.cbp.gov/trade/priority-issues/ipr.