Nearly 15,000 fake Nike sneakers seized in Los Angeles

14,606 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes have been seized at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex in a shipment from China.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discovered the shoes – which if genuine would be worth about $2.2m – while conducting an inspection of a shipment arriving from China in two containers that were mis-declared as containing napkins.

The shipment contained counterfeits of several popular retro Nike sneaker styles, including Air Jordan 1 Off-White; Air Jordan 12; Air Jordan 1 in blue, black, red and white; Air Jordan 11 and Air Max '97.

“Counterfeit brand-name shoes is a multi-million dollar criminal industry,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, CBP port director of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport.

“The trafficking of these items is extremely lucrative and becomes more profitable in markets involving successful and popular products.”

CBP figures for intellectual property rights (IPR) seizures in 2018, released in August, show that footwear was the second most-intercepted product type after clothing and accessories, accounting for 14 per cent of the total number of seizures.

It was the ninth most seized category by value, accounting for $41.5m out of a total $1.2bn-worth of seized goods last year.

Meanwhile, brand protection company Red Points says shoes are the most counterfeited item in the world, with the increase in illicit copies driven by the massive growth in the footwear industry overall.

“Basketball shoes are currently experiencing the fastest-growing market share, driven by product hype stirred on social media channels and by market influencers such as athletes,” said the company in a recent blog post.

Last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers busted a New York ring manufacturing counterfeit Nike Air Jordans, making five arrests among a group estimated to have sold $70m-worth of fakes to US consumers.

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