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CBP participates in Homeland Security anti-counterfeiting operation in metro New Orleans

Release Date: 
October 23, 2019

NEW ORLEANS—For the third straight year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), New Orleans Field Office has partnered with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for Operation Safety Claus, an anti-counterfeiting law enforcement operation in metro New Orleans. 

“We seize counterfeit items on a regular basis,” said Denise Emmer, Chief of Trade and Training at CBP New Orleans.

In recent weeks, CBP officers have intercepted such items as makeup, contact lenses, hair products, eyelashes, and clothing.  

“They are not only damaging to the U.S. economy, but items including makeup and supplements can harm the consumer,” Emmer said. 

The purpose of the operation, which also includes the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Louisiana, and the Office of the Louisiana Attorney General, is to target counterfeit goods during the Holiday season. During the Halloween holiday for instance, items like contact lenses, makeup and other cosmetics are of particular interest as they are relatively inexpensive and can contain bacteria, heavy metals, or other toxins that pose a health and safety hazard when not purchased from reputable sources.

“Law enforcement operations such as Operation Safety Claus assist the FDA in meeting its mission of protecting American consumers from illegal and potentially harmful FDA-regulated products.  We are committed to sending a strong and clear message to importers of counterfeit products that if they place the public at risk, we’re ready and they will be caught,” said FDA Miami Acting Special Agent in Charge Chad Menster. “Through this impressive operation, we’ll work with our federal partners to maximize our ability to help ensure fraudulent and potentially dangerous products do not reach American consumers.” 

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.

 

Last modified: 
October 23, 2019