U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized more than 327,000 counterfeit goods and arrested thirty-three people through the ICE HSI-led Operation Holiday Hoax II, ICE announced in December.
"These actions prevent illegal merchandise from reaching the retail market in Mexico, hence protecting legally established businesses from the underground economy and illegal commerce," said Tax Administration Service of Mexico Director Alfredo Gutierrez.
From Nov. 1 to Dec. 16, agents seized counterfeit toys, cell phones, handbags, DVDs and other goods during the operation. According to ICE, the seized goods had a manufacturer's suggested retail price of about $76.8 million and those arrested pursuant to the operation were charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods.
The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Mexican Government identified stores, flea markets and swap meets that were involved with importing, distributing and selling counterfeit items in 66 cities in the United States, ICE said.
During the six-week-long operation, agents also conducted inspections at U.S. ports of entry, which would oftentimes lead to follow-up investigations by ICE HSI agents.
"Counterfeiting remains a significant problem that demands strong enforcement efforts both here and abroad," ICE Director John Morton said. "This year's success during Operation Holiday Hoax was as a result of the close partnership with the governments of Mexico and South Korea...Together, we've dealt a significant blow to counterfeiters worldwide while making a positive impact on American jobs here at home."
The first Operation Holiday Hoax took place in December 2009 and netted more than $26 million worth of counterfeit goods, ICE said.