More than $2 million worth of fake Nikes seized in Los Angeles-area port

More than 14,800 pairs of sneakers, including many made to look like Air Jordans, were shipped from China, customs officials said.
Image: More than 14,800 pair of counterfeit Nike shoes, seized in a shipment arriving from China at the Los Angeles-Long Beach sports complex
More than 14,800 pair of counterfeit Nike shoes, seized in a shipment arriving from China at the Los Angeles-Long Beach sports complex, Oct. 9, 2019.U.S. Customs and Border Protection / AP

More than 14,800 pairs of fake Nike shoes that had been shipped from China and declared as napkins have been seized by customs officials in the Los Angeles area.

If genuine Nikes and sold at the manufacturer's suggested retail price, the shoes would have been worth more than $2 million, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Wednesday.

The counterfeit shoes were Air Jordans of various types. Customs officials said they included special edition and retro designs that are highly sought-after by collectors. The legitimate shoes can fetch around $1,500 when sold online.

The fake Nikes had loosely attached Nike "swoosh" symbols that appeared to be shoddily stitched to the sides of the sneakers, NBC Los Angeles reported.

More than 14,800 pair of counterfeit Nike shoes, seized in a shipment arriving from China at the Los Angeles-Long Beach sports complex, Oct. 9, 2019.U.S. Customs and Border Protection / AP

The CBP said the shoes, which were in two shipping containers, were discovered during an inspection of cargos from China by officers assigned to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport. The agency said the fake shoes were found recently but did not specify an exact date.

"Transnational criminal organizations continue to profit from American intellectual property by selling their counterfeit and piratical goods not only in the U.S. but around the world,” Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles, said in the statement.

The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach are the busiest and second-busiest container seaports in the United States. The two ports are in the same general area in southern Los Angeles County.

Customs and Border Protection says that counterfeit name-brand shoes are a "multi-million dollar criminal industry," which is frequently is used to fund criminal enterprises.

Footwear was second only to clothing and accessories among the total seizures by product in fiscal 2018, the CBP said in a report.