by | Feb 15, 2013 | Imports, Trade Policy

Operation Red Zone seized $13.6 million in fake NFL merchandise this season

by Peter Quinter, guest columnist

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in cooperation with Special Agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) of the US Department of Homeland Security made a spectacular bust of a ring of counterfeiters in New Orleans prior to the Superbowl. Arrests were made and millions of dollars of allegedly counterfeit merchandise were seized. This is just the latest incident in the daily activities of both CBP and HSI officers to attempt to stop the importation, distribution, and sale of counterfeit merchandise. Statistically, 2012 was a record year for CBP with $1.26 billion in counterfeit merchandise seized and 691 arrests, according to CBP Assistant Commissioner Al Gina.

Every year, CBP reports its statistics of seizures of counterfeit merchandise. The trend is clear; it is up because there is simply more counterfeit merchandise entering the United States each year from countries such as China, Mexico, and Vietnam. One day it may be counterfeit NFL team jerseys, the next day it will be counterfeit birth control pills, or counterfeit auto parts. Counterfeiting is a multi-billion dollar business.

Americans apparently support it because we are huge consumers of counterfeit merchandise. Most consumers of counterfeit merchandise know they are buying a knock-off because instead of paying $5,000 for a genuine Rolex watch, the $50 counterfeit look-alike seems like a good deal. That occurs whether the illegal purchase and sale is at a flea market or on the Internet.

CBP is, however, often simply wrong when it detains, and then seizes, merchandise it suspects is counterfeit. In those situations, an attorney very familiar and experienced in challenging such detentions or seizures becomes critical to obtain the release before the value is significantly decreased and delivery can still be made to the customer. Plus, a huge fine can be issued by CBP to any importer for a violation of 19 USC 1526(f) when the importer attempts to import counterfeit merchandise, so avoiding or mitigating that fine through the CBP administrative petition process becomes paramount.

Please call or email me with any questions or comments at [email protected] or (954) 270-1864.

Copyright © 2013 GrayRobinson


Meet Peter Quinter at next month’s International Boston Seafood Show. For the third year in a row, he will be moderating a panel of legal experts and managers from the Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Protection convened to discuss what seafood importers need to know to comply with government requirements and avoid delays, seizures, and penalties, with the Federal Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) top of agenda. The Seafood Show’s highest-rated panel for two years running, this year’s presentation will be on Monday, March 11, 2013, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.


About Peter Quinter

The Datamyne Blog’s legal contributor is a shareholder in GrayRobinson’s Miami and Ft. Lauderdale offices, chair of the Customs & International Trade Law Group, and editor of the GrayRobinson Customs and International Law Blog. Appointed by the Secretary of Commerce to the Florida District Export Council, Quinter is a recognized expert in international and trade law: Florida Trend magazine ranks Quinter among its “Legal Elite” in International Law; he is listed in “Best Lawyers in America” in the area of FDA Law.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views or Descartes Datamyne. In addition, this article is for general information purposes only and it’s not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind and my not be used for professional or commercial purposes. No one should act, or refrain from acting, based solely on this article without first seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.

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