Nearly 15,000 pairs of fake Nike shoes, which would be valued at more than $2.2 million if they were genuine, were confiscated at the Port of Los Angeles by US Customs and Border Protection agents, a the agency announced on Wednesday.
The counterfeit shoes were discovered in two separate containers on the same ship from China in May, officials said, who have just released the information. The contents had been declared as towels.
The seizure – a lengthy process due to back and forth between Nike, authorities and the importer – was completed last month, said Jaime Ruiz, a spokesman for the agency.
U.S. Customs officials, Ruiz said, had been tipped off by Homeland Security investigations. No arrests had yet been made, as the case was still open.
“It’s definitely a big waste of money,” Ruiz said of the scammers. “But we will continue to track and monitor the activity of those involved.”
There are many counterfeit products on the market, Ruiz said, especially online.
“We have to remember that counterfeit products are made in inhumane and unsanitary conditions,” Ruiz said. “Sometimes child labor is involved. Every time someone buys a counterfeit, they are supporting criminals because all the money goes to criminals all over the world.
The confiscated shoes included varieties of Nike Air Jordan and Air Max ’97 shoes.
Some of the shoes seized were special-edition Nike knockoffs and retro designs that, if real, sell online for up to $2,000 a pair.
About 99% of the time, seized counterfeit goods are destroyed by authorities, Ruiz said. But if a nonprofit asks for the products to be donated, the agency will do so if the brand owner – in this case Nike – approves the transaction.