NEW YORK — The U.S. Customs Service is investigating a smuggling incident in which $500 million worth of apparel entered the country through West Coast ports and evaded duties, according to an official with the service.

At a meeting Wednesday of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel and the American Import Shippers’ Association, Janet Labuda, director of Custom’s Textile Enforcement and Operations division, said the agency had recently discovered a "major circumvention of our in-bond systems," a reference to the systems the service uses to collect tariffs on goods coming into the country.

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