Agents seize over 2,000 counterfeit items as part of national operation

Published On: Dec 19 2012 06:53:13 PM HST   Updated On: Dec 19 2012 07:19:02 PM HST

Gucci, Chanel, and Louie Vutton. 

ICE agents busted a Chinatown retail store on Hotel and Maunakea Street on Tuesday, dragging out box after box of fake versions of more than a dozen well-known brands.

On closer inspection you can see the bad glue jobs, junk zippers, and wobbly stitching.

"We had to go out and rent a U-Haul," said Wayne Wills, who is special agent charge for Honolulu's ICE Homeland Security Investigations. 

It's part of the annual, month-long "Operation Holiday Hoax," targeting counterfeit goods and the criminals involved.

Wills said Tuesday's bust was the biggest in Hawaii to date.

"But we know we are just scratching the surface," he said.

Right now, seizures are happening in dozens of states and online.

Agents said crooks are hawking bogus merchandise on eBay and Craigslist; they turn up at swap meets, supply outlets, and stores at shopping malls.

And, they said it's not just bags, purses and sunglasses.

"With the volume of goods that cross our borders on a daily basis there are times those things come in that go undetected," said Wills.

For example, agents are finding more counterfeit circuit breakers.

They say it's often hard to tell real from fake, but typically, the switches on fake breakers don’t flip as smoothly, breakers are usually lighter, and the equipment may not have proper labeling such as the amount of wattage and ampage marked on the breaker.

In 2010, agents seized nearly 100,000 counterfeit breakers from a supply company.

In October, they arrested two men for trafficking dozens of fake air bags made by a company in China. 

Agents say they are all reminders, especially this holiday season, what you buy may not only be illegal, but putting you at risk.

A warning for moms: agents also still seeing a lot of counterfeit baby food and powdered milk.

So, what happens to those thousands and thousands of seized counterfeit items?  Agents said all of it will get destroyed.


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