March 2, 2012 at 1:57 PM ET
Gucci, Ugg, Burberry, Coach, Nike and Louis Vuitton. Those were among the brand names of counterfeit goods that federal authorities said they hauled in from what they called one of the largest counterfeit goods smuggling operations ever.
So far 29 people from the U.S. and China have been charged for allegedly smuggling counterfeit shoes, handbags and clothing worth about $325 million, had they been genuine, according to a statement from the U.S Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey Friday.
CNBC said authorities from several agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security and the FBI, put together the pieces of several international investigations into one massive probe. CNBC said the interconnected scams involved U.S. warehousers, distributors and wholesalers. The laundered money was sent back to China.
The U.S. Attorney's office said the defendants allegedly attempted to smuggle the counterfeit goods from China through Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in Elizabeth, N.J. The complaint alleges the defendants paid $900,000 to undercover law enforcement agents posing as a shipping company with "connections" at the terminal to clear the goods through customs.
In 2011 alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, seized 24,792 counterfeit and pirated goods, valued at $178.9 million, with a manufacturers' suggested retail value of about $1.1 billion, if they had been real. The CBP said that China continues to be the top source of counterfeit and pirated goods, accounting for 62 percent of the total domestic value of seizures.
Here is more on the story from CNBC: