As pro-basketball opening day approaches, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday that officers at Los Angeles International Airport recently seized 28 counterfeit National Basketball Association championship rings.
If genuine, the rings -- which will be destroyed -- would have had an estimated manufacturer's suggested retail price of $560,000, said CBP spokesman Jaime Ruiz.
Officers discovered the rings while conducting an enforcement exam on a shipment arriving from China with a final destination in Arizona, according to CBP officials, who said the rings were found in July inside of a wooden box, with the apparent intent to be sold as a collection.
CBP specialists said the designs and word marks were in violation of the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Air Jordan and NBA trophy trademarks.
"Scammers take advantage of collectors and pro-basketball fans desiring to obtain a piece of sports history," said Carlos C. Martel, CBP's director of field operations in Los Angeles. "This seizure illustrates how CBP officers and import specialists protect not only trademarks, but most importantly, the American consumer."
Legitimate NBA championship ring prices range between $10,000 and $40,000, and in some cases over $200,000. The quantity and estimated retail value of counterfeit items seized are clear indications of the profits that are involved in the illegal trade of counterfeit NBA championship rings, Martel said.
Donald R. Kusser, CBP port director at LAX, said transnational criminal organizations "are shipping illicit goods to the United States via small express parcels in an attempt to circumvent U.S. laws. CBP at LAX commits substantial resources to detect, intercept and seize illicit goods in a challenging e-commerce global environment."
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In 2018, CBP seized 33,810 shipments containing goods that violated intellectual property rights, the agency reported.
The total estimated retail value of the seized goods, had they been genuine, increased to nearly $1.4 billion from over $1.2 billion in 2017.
Apparel and accessories once again topped the list for number of seizures with 6,098, representing 18% of all 2018 seizures.
Watches and jewelry continued as the top products seized by total retail value with seizures valued at over $618 million, representing 44% of the total. Handbags and wallets were second with seizures estimated to be valued at more than $226 million, according to CBP.