Jamaica customs agency seizes millions in counterfeit goods

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JCA Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner of Customs Major Richard Reese addressing the opening ceremony of the training seminar for customs officers. (Photo: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday July 28, 2015 – The Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) says it confiscated more than J$250 million (US$2.1 million) worth of counterfeit goods at the island’s ports of entry in just over a year.

Commissioner of Customs and the JCA’s chief executive officer, Major Richard Reese, said the items included cigarettes, clothing, footwear, handbags, belts and hats – some intended for the local market, others destined for other countries.

He made the disclosure yesterday as he addressed the JCA’s five-day intellectual property rights training seminar for custom officers, where director in the agency’s Border Protection Unit, Kalista Powell, also disclosed that the containers bearing the counterfeit products were intercepted between January 2014 and April 2015, following intelligence and joint inter-agency operations that involved local and overseas law enforcement entities.

A significant portion of the items forfeited by the owners, she said, were destroyed in April.

Investigations are underway in relation to the other items.

“Persons have been charged and court proceedings are ongoing,” Powell said at the seminar staged in collaboration with the World Customs Organization.

Hailing the success of the operations, Major Reese said that counterfeiting and piracy of authentic products were “illicit businesses on which criminal networks thrive”.

“This is one of the means by which organised crime criminal networks also fund their illegal activities. The Jamaica Customs Agency will continue to collaborate with our partners, local and international, as we make every effort to remove the profit from organised crime and facilitate legitimate trade,” he assured.

Powell also underscored the need for joint efforts to curb counterfeiting.

Under Jamaican laws, the penalties for counterfeiting products, whether for manufacturing or trade, include forfeiture of goods, fines, or imprisonment.

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