More than 5,000 counterfeit items were seized at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) this week, federal agents confirmed Wednesday.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said some of the items were falsely labeled as Gucci, Fendi, Hermès, Versace, and Nike-produced products, all which had a collective value of over $3.4 million if genuine. The CBP said the fakes arrived at LAX via air cargo from Hong Kong, where counterfeit operations are quite common. The agency pointed out that the size of the shipment and its estimated retail value "is a clear indication of the profits that are involved in the illegal trade of luxury goods."
Among the seized products were 678 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes, 531 counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags, 1,242 counterfeit Gucci belts, 502 counterfeit Gucci hip bags, 230 counterfeit Hermès bags, 100 counterfeit Versace belts, and 119 counterfeit Fendi shorts.
"The American public should be aware that buying a counterfeit product is a lose-lose proposition, because the money they paid often funds criminal enterprises," Donald R. Kusser, CBP Port Director at LAX, said in a press release. "In addition, buyers get a substandard low-quality product, containing unknown chemicals and likely produced under inhumane conditions."
In the 2018 fiscal year, the CBP reportedly confiscated 33,810 shipments of counterfeit items, which had an estimated value of $1.4 billion had they been real. The most commonly seized fakes were accessories and apparel, followed by handbags and wallets, and then watches and jewelry.
Federal agents urged consumers to purchase purported luxury items with caution, as counterfeit operations typically fund other illegal enterprises.