U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, working with Paraguay’s customs and law enforcement agencies, said Friday they have made two major counterfeit busts.

This story first appeared in the October 22, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

On Tuesday, Paraguayan authorities, working in collaboration with HSI, seized counterfeit watches under the Swiss brands Patek Philippe, Tissot, Tag Heuer, Bulgari and Hublot, with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $34 million.


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The investigation began Oct. 11, when Paraguayan authorities received information about counterfeit products being smuggled out of Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asunción by a criminal organization attempting to smuggle these goods out of the country, possibly destined for the U.S. In addition, about 12,500 counterfeit Samsung cellular phones were discovered and also seized by law enforcement.

This followed an operation on Sept. 26 in which Paraguayan Customs, working with HSI, identified and searched a shipment of containers sent to Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, from Uruguay. The three containers and their contents included counterfeit Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo gaming systems. The shipment, with a retail value of $741,041, was seized by Paraguayan authorities.

The seizures are the result of HSI’s Illicit Pathways Attack Strategy. Over the last two decades, transnational organized crime has transformed in size, scope and impact — posing a significant threat to national and international security, the agency said. TOC networks are proliferating, striking new alliances and engaging in a range of illicit activities.