In between drugs and illegal immigrants, there's another type of contraband that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has to watch out for, and they hit the mother lode at the Laredo border crossing, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
ICE agents seized 79,000 counterfeit items, ranging from knock off Nike and Adidas shoes to fake Samsung and Sony big screen TVs, in a massive bust in Laredo. Its the second biggest haul of counterfeit items ever at the Laredo Port of Entry, which is the largest inland port in North America.
The total street value of the items, which were discovered in 275 separate boxes, is in excess of $16 million. All of the knock-offs apparently came from China.
“Trafficking counterfeit goods poses a triple threat,” said Tim Tubbs, deputy special agent in charge of HSI Laredo. “Counterfeit merchandise wreaks havoc on local economies, threatens the health and safety of the American public, and funds criminal organizations engaged in other illegal activities.”
ICE agents received a tip last Thursday that counterfeit items were being stored in a public storage facility in Laredo, and agents staking out the location observed several people transferring boxes from the leased storage units to pickup trucks and vans with Mexican license plates.
ICE says the items had been shipped to phony addreses in Laredo.
Historical information suggests that smugglers typically transport illicit goods into Mexico often fail to file required export documents through CBP’s Automated Commercial Environment, and exploit the ports of entry by clandestinely smuggling merchandise to Mexico. Once in Mexico, smugglers pay bribes to Mexican cartels who often extort Mexican regulatory and law enforcement officials so that the merchandise passes without inspection and payment of duties.
PHOTO: IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT