US Customs agents target counterfeit goods with mandatory screening

DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) - Fashion fakes won’t be making it to store shelves, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are working to do more than just stopping that from happening.

They may look like Nike shoes, Gucci purses and Super Bowl rings, but the fakes were among the numerous counterfeit items confiscated from China at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection International Mail Facility in Doral.

“We are ready,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port Director Christopher Mason. “This is what we do. It’s what we specialize in, to target and identify these shipments.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who has called for increased screenings and inspections for goods coming in from China, was given a tour of the facility following the big bust.

A major fear with products seized from China is stopping the spread of deadly diseases, including the coronavirus.

“We know with the growing threat of the Chinese coronavirus that we have to be more vigilant and diligent on this,” said Scott.

In 2019 alone, 27,000 shipments were seized by CBP agents. The nearly $1.5 billion worth of goods could have impacted retailers, brands and the U.S. job market.

“That does, in fact, impact U.S. jobs, $1.5 billion in economic impact to the industries that are trying to compete,” said Mason.

One of the main goals for officers is the protection of intellectual property by giving companies the assurance that their brands and trademarks will be watched and protected from all fronts.

“The theft of the brand, I would argue, is in some respects more detrimental than the theft of the property itself,” said Mason.

On top of searching and sifting through items, officers rely on equipment and K-9s to add multiple layers of defense.

“Because it’s just too many things to actually look at everything,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Brand Chief Arthur Florence, “so the X-ray is a big component of our help out here as well as K-9s.”

Officials said with e-commerce jumping 60% in the last two years, companies like Apple and Amazon are now working more closely with Custom and Border Protection officers.

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