• US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has seized 181,000 counterfeit items worth nearly US$43m in Laredo, Texas.

The US has seized US$42.9m worth of counterfeit items – including sportswear and luxury apparel – in the largest counterfeit seizure in Laredo, Texas.

Led by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), 181,000 items were seized as a result of the crackdown.

In mid-June 2018, HSI special agents conducted surveillance over a three-day period and observed boxes containing suspected counterfeit merchandise being moved. During the enforcement action, HSI discovered that all shipping labels on all the boxes depicted fictitious delivery addresses in Laredo.

HSI confirmed the boxes contained counterfeit merchandise and eventually seized 795 boxes containing 181,615 pieces of trademark-infringed merchandise, which included many counterfeited brands including Adidas, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Coach, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Luis Vuitton, Nike, and Under Armor.

Through its investigation, HSI discovered that the Laredo-based criminal organisation was the same organisation that agents identified from a separate May 2018 counterfeit merchandise seizure.

During the May 2018 seizure, HSI seized US$16.1m in trademark infringed merchandise which was destined for illegal export to Mexico. Taken together, the two seizures represent $59m in seized counterfeit merchandise, more than 260,000 pieces of garments, consumer electronics, cosmetics and jewellery.

This HSI-led investigation is being assisted by US Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Field Operations, Mexican Customs and representatives from the trademark industry.

"Criminal elements use every and any opportunity to sell substandard and counterfeit goods to the American public," says acting deputy special agent in charge, Jesus Adrian Flores, HSI Laredo. "HSI special agents are committed to collaborating with industry representatives and law-enforcement agencies to crackdown on counterfeiting that significantly hurts local economies and funnels money into criminal organisations involved in additional illicit activities."

To date, no criminal charges have been filed in this case. This investigation remains ongoing.