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16,000 designer handbags seized by US customs

16,000 designer handbags seized by US customs

LOS ANGELES: US Customs and Border Protection officials have seized more than 16,000 counterfeit designer handbags with a legitimate market value of $210 million.

Customs officials at the port in Los Angeles and Long Beach intercepted nine shipments of fake Hermes purses and handbags from June 6 to Sept 17. The shipments were taken to the Department of Homeland Security seized-property warehouse in Riverside.

Inside the shipment were 16,053 counterfeit bags intermixed with legitimate shipments of lower-end unmarked bags to conceal the black-market haul. The domestic value of the counterfeit bags, including the cost and shipping costs, totalled $295,665. The suggested manufacturer retail value would be $210.8 million if the bags had been genuine and sold legitimately.

In a large, unmarked warehouse in Riverside, nearly 1,600 large cardboard boxes were stacked, with a few select counterfeit bags scattered on top.

The French Hermes bags can usually retail for $9,400 to $18,000 per bag, said Elva Muneton, assistant port director of trade.