Los Angeles - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) import specialists and officers at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport complex intercepted and seized a shipment of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes arriving from China with an estimated manufacturer's suggested retail price of $1.1 million.
As an attempt to mislead CBP and circumvent U.S. federal laws, smugglers falsely invoiced the shipment as "hang tags and hang plugs". Examination of the merchandise revealed a total of 22,170 cartons equivalent to over 4.4 million individual cigarettes in violation of the Marlboro Light 100's and Marlboro Gold Pack trademarks.
"This seizure is a fine example of the hard work the men and women of CBP perform to protect the American consumer and the economic vitality of our country," said CBP Acting Director of Los Angeles Field Operations. "Preventing the importation of illegal merchandise continues to be a top priority for CBP."
Counterfeit cigarettes not only affect trademark owners, but defraud consumers and deprive government of tax revenue. Consumers think they pay less for a genuine product, when in reality they pay less for a product of substandard quality.
Organized crime organizations smuggle counterfeit cigarettes because of the substantial profits it generates. Much of these profits fund other criminal activities including money laundering and terrorism.
Importers violating intellectual property rights may be subject to civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution. The domestic value of this shipment was estimated at $443,400.
In fiscal year 2009, 14,841 seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods with a total domestic value of $260.7 million were intercepted by CBP at U.S. ports of entry.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.