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Cincinnati CBP seizes $6.9M in counterfeit high-end jewelry

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Press Release

In a one-week span last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati were vigilant intercepting 11 shipments containing counterfeit jewelry ahead of the holidays. If the 11 shipments of jewelry — which came from India, Hong Kong and Indonesia — had all been genuine, the merchandise would have been worth over $6.96 million.

On Dec. 1, officers seized a shipment containing 783 pieces of counterfeit jewelry. The package originated in Hong Kong and contained bracelets, earrings and necklaces displaying the logos of Fendi, Versace, Cartier, Christian Dior and Tiffany & Co. The shipment was destined to a residential address in North Carolina. Based on the cheap generic packaging, lack of intricate details and routing led to the seizure of this shipment by officers in Cincinnati. Had this high-end jewelry been authentic, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) would have been $992,046.

The next day, enforcement efforts led to the seizure of 60 sets of jewelry originating in Hong Kong including designers such as Cartier, Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Gucci. The following day officers opened a box from Indonesia containing one Audemars Piguet watch lacking the fine details needed to be genuine. Both shipments were headed to private residences in North Carolina and Maryland.  

On Dec. 6, officers inspecting freight discovered six more shipments containing counterfeit merchandise. One of the shipments included 650 pieces of phony Van Cleef earrings, bracelets and necklaces with an MSRP of over $1.7 million. Another box contained 102 Rolex watches with matching boxes, along with 20 Gucci belts totaling over $3 million had the watches and belts been genuine. Another four shipments were intercepted including one Franck Muller watch, one Cartier watch, one Tissot watch and five Apple watches.

Lastly, on Dec. 7, two more shipments of various fake merchandise were seized. One held a mixture of counterfeit jewelry and headbands with the logos of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Van Cleef, Dior and even Mickey Mouse. The last shipment was loaded with 125 counterfeit watches displaying logos of Adidas, Coach, Tous, Gucci and Rolex.

“CBP protects legitimate trade practices and recommends shoppers purchase their holiday gifts from reputable websites and businesses,” said Cincinnati Port Director Alrick Brooks. “With the influx in e-commerce, purchasing gifts online can be misleading through third-party sites. We encourage you to be aware and report any suspicious illegal trade activity.”

All 11 shipments discovered, were determined to be counterfeit by CBP’s Centers for Excellence and Expertise (CEEs), the agency’s trade experts and were seized for infringing on the designer’s protected trademarks. 

“Protecting the American people, our borders, and enhancing economic prosperity is our job here at US Customs and Border Protection,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director of Chicago Field Operations. “Officers are trained to detect shipments containing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations, and the officers at the Port of Cincinnati do this job very well. By enabling compliant trade, we are protecting the American consumer and the businesses.”

CBP has established an educational initiative to raise consumer awareness about the consequences and dangers that are often associated with the purchase of counterfeit and pirated goods. The economic impacts of counterfeit goods are real and translates to lost profits and jobs over time. Information about the Truth Behind Counterfeits public awareness campaign can be found at

If you have any information regarding suspected fraud or illegal trade activity, please contact CBP through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violations Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT. IPR violations can also be reported to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at or by telephone at 1-866-IPR-2060.