At least $552,000 worth of counterfeit design apparel was seized in March by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers from two passengers returning to Chicago from Turkey, the federal agency said.
According to a statement from the agency, more than 550 counterfeit items were seized from the passengers' seven large duffel bags including brands like Adidas, Burberry, Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
Initially the two did not declare anything, CBP said, but during a secondary inspection they declared $2,000 worth of gifts. The passengers claimed the items were primarily for friends and family, according to CBP.
The counterfeit items of varying protected trademarks were strategically placed between personal items and the passengers' own clothing, the agency said, noting the luggage contained counterfeit luxury shoes, shirts, handbags, wallets and perfumes, among other things.
The passengers also packed dust-bags and clear plastic bags, which are both commonly used to package and display luxury items, according to CBP.
The passengers were arrested on criminal complaints signed by representatives of Louis Vuitton and Chanel "for the infringing goods found in the passengers’ luggage," the agency said.
"The smuggling and illegal sales of counterfeit merchandise is a growing threat to our economy, and U.S jobs, that cannot stand," said Area Port Director-Chicago Shane Campbell in a statement. "Those travelers who are found to be smuggling counterfeit items will face consequences for the harm they do to the U.S. economic well-being.”
According to the agency, counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. economy between $200 billion and $250 billion per year. It is also responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs.