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Cache of phony high-end items seized in Chinatown

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:44 a.m. HST, Dec 20, 2012


Federal agents seized 2,049 counterfeit designer purses, wallets, sunglasses and other faux luxury items Tuesday in what was called the largest such seizure ever in Hawaii.

Search warrants were executed at an undisclosed retailer near Hotel and Mauna­kea streets in the heart of Chinatown. Wayne K. Wills, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Honolulu office, said it was the largest seizure of counterfeit merchandise here.

Trafficking and smuggling of counterfeit items in violation of trademark laws carry a prison term of a year or more.

If the items were authentic, their value would be as high as $1.8 million, officials said. The haul of counterfeit goods was so large that a day after the raid "we are still actively engaged in the processing of this evidence," Wills said after a press briefing Wednesday afternoon.

No arrests were made but indictments are expected in the coming weeks and months, he said.

The items bear the trademarks of more than a dozen designer or well-known brands including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes and Coach. Wills said it is believed the items were imported from South Korea or China.

Agents acted on information provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is also part of Homeland Security, Wills said.

Despite the large haul, the products seized represented only a small fraction of counterfeit items that can be found at retailers, swap meets and elsewhere around the state, he said.

Tuesday's seizures will not be the last, he said.

Some people have a false impression that sales of knockoff luxury items don't hurt anyone when in fact it injures those companies who conduct business legally and legitimately, as well as those people who work for them, Wills said.

"It is not a victimless crime … there are consequences. It affects the livelihoods of others," he said.

Counterfeit items are also not just limited to luxury items, but other, possibly faulty goods from vehicular air bags to electrical switches, he said.

The seizures were part of Operation Holiday Hoax, an international law enforcement initiative targeting the importation and distribution of counterfeit and pirated products in an effort to protect companies producing copyrighted merchandise, as well as consumers.

The fake items seized Tuesday will be destroyed after they are no longer considered evidence.






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manakuke wrote:
Counterfeits are not a victimless crime and can involve international investigation
on December 20,2012 | 02:35AM
news333 wrote:
If someone sells you a $2000 purse for $80, then you gotta know it's fake. Federal Taxpayers like us got to foot the bill for fashion companies. Bill them.
on December 20,2012 | 06:59AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
I feel much safer with those knock-off purses off the street. With that scourge now addressed, perhaps they now address the car breaks and meth trafficking.
on December 20,2012 | 05:33AM
soundofreason wrote:
I agree. The last thing I want is to be mugged and hit with a brick in a knock off handbag when I'm mugged. I want a top shelf mugging or none at all.
on December 20,2012 | 06:05AM
soundofreason wrote:
Also tends to make the bad prostitutes look good by carrying false price tagged items. Easier to identify the good ones now :/
on December 20,2012 | 06:07AM
loquaciousone wrote:
In that case, you have to walk around in Waikiki at 3:00 am because those ladies make enough to buy real brand name gucciis. Stay away from Chinatown because you might get stuck in the eye from the thread peeling off of those knock off purses.
on December 20,2012 | 06:11AM
soundofreason wrote:
HATE thread peels. Thank you!
on December 20,2012 | 06:27AM
allie wrote:
yikes!
on December 20,2012 | 09:20AM
allie wrote:
giggle...
on December 20,2012 | 09:19AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I always wondered how all those old ladies on the bus could carry around their pennies from collecting cans and bottles in their Gucci purses.
on December 20,2012 | 05:54AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I always wondered how all those old ladies on the bus could carry around their pennies from collecting cans and bottles in their Guccii purses.
on December 20,2012 | 05:54AM
nitpikker wrote:
yeah, they take all those counterfeits off the street but unless they punish the leader they'll simply go to their warehouse and stock up on the knock-offs all over again!
on December 20,2012 | 05:57AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I need to get some Rolex watches by Christmas and only have $20 to spend so they need to ship some in quick.
on December 20,2012 | 06:29AM
allie wrote:
What is it with the Chinese anyway?
on December 20,2012 | 09:20AM
McCully wrote:
These counterfeits has been going on for years. Where were the feds then?
on December 20,2012 | 06:20AM
Slow wrote:
Good point McCully. Unfortunately time only goes forward. The past is gone.
on December 20,2012 | 06:51AM
hilopango wrote:
Agree...every single day in many shops in Chinatown, Waikiki, and every weekend at the swap meet.
on December 20,2012 | 09:45AM
NuuanuMama wrote:
Rather than destroying them, why don't they auction the goods and donate the proceeds to the Food Bank or some other charity. Might as well get some good out of it and not completely waste the resources used to make those things.
on December 20,2012 | 06:35AM
Ewaduffer wrote:
That would be a felony.
on December 20,2012 | 06:54AM
allie wrote:
good idea
on December 20,2012 | 09:20AM
mrluke wrote:
I guess you didn't read the article. Selling or auctioning it by ANYONE is illegal. No matter what the cause or who benefits. The stuff would just make its way back out to the public to be passed off again as genuine.
on December 20,2012 | 01:25PM
Anonymous wrote:
Phony brand named product is an infringement of intellectual property. It is bad, but not as bad as phony food and drugs in China, which can kill.
on December 20,2012 | 09:37AM
mrluke wrote:
In Chinatown! Who would've guessed?
on December 20,2012 | 01:08PM
loquaciousone wrote:
I hear that in Chinatown, when you buy Vietnamese Pho you make sure you eat with a Vietnamese friend or they might serve you some knock off Pho.
on December 20,2012 | 01:14PM
soundofreason wrote:
And if it was dog meat, it might a Pho......Paw.
on December 20,2012 | 05:41PM
niimi wrote:
Where else buy Chinatown?
on December 20,2012 | 04:02PM
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