U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested two men and seized approximately $1 million of counterfeit luxury brand jewelry items from vendors at the Gem and Lapidary Wholesalers show last week.
“People sometimes think they’re getting a ‘gem’ of a deal when they buy knock-off luxury items,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Tucson. “In reality, they are supporting crime. Intellectual property theft hurts American workers and American business and is often tied to other types of criminal activities.”
More than 2,500 pieces of jewelry and almost $35,000 in cash from booths were seized by HSI special agents. The vendors became the target of an HSI undercover investigation after HSI special agents received a tip that suspected counterfeit luxury brand jewelry items were sold at the booths. Workers at the booth sold the counterfeit items to the undercover HSI special agents after telling them that the items were fake.
The seized items feature fraudulent trademarks of Tiffany & Co., Chanel, Hermes, Coach, Gucci and others, ICE said. The two suspects were arrested and face potential state charges of fraud, counterfeiting, money laundering and illegal enterprise.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Tucson Office of Field Operations and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office assisted ICE HSI in the investigation.