Tobacco smugglers’ haul to hit US worth $30m

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Agents spotted the counterfeit items on the Chinese-run ship, which arrived in New York Authorities have seized more than $30m (£24m) of counterfeit goods – including millions of…

Tobacco smugglers' haul to hit US worth $30m

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Agents spotted the counterfeit items on the Chinese-run ship, which arrived in New York

Authorities have seized more than $30m (£24m) of counterfeit goods – including millions of fake handbags – ahead of the holiday season.

A Chinese-operated cargo ship carrying the bags was apprehended by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the Caribbean on Wednesday.

It is the first of four planned operations by the US Government to foil potential attempts to smuggle counterfeit products into the country.

San Diego District Attorney Lori Frugoli said that the high number of seized goods amounted to “imminent danger”.

The CBP said the goods, including fake Hermes and Gucci handbags and a TV showing the films Batman and Mission Impossible, had been destined for markets in the United States.

The estimated value of the goods has not been officially released.

Image copyright CQ Roll Call Image caption The goods were expected to reach Chinese shoppers in the US

When CBP officers found false items on the vessel they radioed the ship’s captain.

The captain allegedly confirmed the items were not authorised and that they would be returned to a customs agency office in Massachusetts.

“The traffic of knock-off goods coming into the United States is costing this country billions of dollars and putting American consumers at risk. We are determined to protect consumers and stop smugglers from making a profit at the expense of the public,” US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said.

Ms Frugoli said there are about 4,000 stores in San Diego that sell counterfeit goods.

“In one investigation, prosecutors found that 70% of all bags sold on the retail market in San Diego were counterfeit,” she added.

Ms Frugoli said that the products had the potential to harm the health and safety of consumers.

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