U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held a joint media event highlighting counterfeit goods and cautioning “Buyer Beware” for the holidays.
Frank Russo, Port Director CBP, JFK Airport and Angel Melendez, Special Agent in charge of HSSI, NY, stood behind a 20 foot long table of beautiful “fake” products which are evidence of the allure that counterfeit goods have to the uninformed public who usually finds these products for sale online for considerable less cost than the original product. These goods on display included counterfeit iPhones, Samsung ,Movado watches, designer perfumes. Coach bags, NFL Rings and replica trophies from all national sports, sneakers, shoes, ear buds and much more.
Said Director Russo, “ Purchasing “Knock-offs” of brand-name items have serious impact on our economy by taking spending away from our businesses, bri8nging potentially dangerous drugs into our country, loss of jobs, theft of intellectual property rights, loss of income for our national growth and trade”. He pointed specifically to the huge counterfeit drug shipments made to the US as damaging to the health risks of all buyers. In addition, many terrorists use these counterfeit items to produce income to be used for funding terror activities and networks.
Agent Melendez said that 30 percent of all illegal pharmaceuticals coming into this country are fake Cialis and Viagra. “The buyer has no idea of what is inside those blue pills. It might be a bad active ingredient, untested filler, over or under dosage that come from an unauthorized manufacturer leading to fatalities”. Such is the case of Fentanyl, an opioid, which is being shipped to the US in small parcels, some of which have caused deaths because of bad compounds.
Russo said that the CBP is on the frontline of protecting the public from illegal products, and fights the efforts of thieves to curtail our national prosperity. He said that the different agencies work daily using various techniques to identify and inspect suspected counterfeit goods. Once a suspected shipment is identified as fake, an investigation begins which may lead to following the goods to a location possible leading to an arrest. Such was the case when $2 million dollars of fake North face coats were confiscated in a recent bust.
Inspector Russo ended the presentation with these cautionary words, “The bitterness of poor quality lasts much longer than the happiness of a good price.”
All agencies ask that if you See Something, Say Something”. To report suspicious activity, call (866) 347–2423.