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Watches Worth More Than $8.8M Seized by CBP Officer in Cincinnati

Release Date: 
October 22, 2020

CINCINNATI— U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati seized 11 counterfeit Richard Mille watches originating from Hong Kong and destined to an individual in New Orleans, LA. Watches

This seizure is part of CBP’s initiative aimed at protecting U.S. businesses and consumers from unfair Chinese trade practices called Operation Mega Flex. This operation has yielded more than 4,200 seizures of illicit goods and 2,400 agriculture violations over the past 15 months.

Officers seized the three shipments and reached out to the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) to determine if the watches were counterfeit. Had they been genuine, the watches would have been worth more than $8.8 million.

“The theft of intellectual property and the trade in substandard and often dangerous goods threatens America’s innovation economy and consumer health and safety, and it generates proceeds that fund criminal activities and organized crime,” said Richard Gillespie, Port Director-Cincinnati. “Intellectual property rights enforcement is a Customs and Border Protection priority trade issue, and a mission that we take seriously.”

CBP has established an educational initiative to raise consumer awareness about the consequences and dangers that are often associated with the purchase of counterfeit and pirated goods. Information about the Truth Behind Counterfeits public awareness campaign can be found at https://www.cbp.gov/FakeGoodsRealDangers.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, CBP and their partner agency Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) seized 27,599 shipments containing IPR violations with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of over $1.5 billion had the goods been genuine. Watches and jewelry represent 15 percent of all IPR seizures, and continue to top the list of all seized IPR materials.

CBP conducts operations at ports of entry throughout the United States, and regularly screens arriving international passengers and cargo for narcotics, weapons, and other restricted or prohibited products. CBP strives to serve as the premier law enforcement agency enhancing the Nation’s safety, security, and prosperity through collaboration, innovation, and integration.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021