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Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - 10:16am

$3 Million In Fake Goods Seized

Homeland Security officials say, they're seizing more counterfeit goods coming into the U.S. through the Port of Savannah.

The uptick comes with the rebounding economy.

Along with more legitimate imports, Savannah's ocean terminal is getting more Nikes that aren't Nikes, more college sport hats that aren't properly licensed and more goods that do worse than eat at a company's bottom line.

"It looks like a straightening iron. It feels likes a straightening iron. It's packaged like a straightening iron," says John Porter, the Savannah port chief for Customs and Border Protection. "The problem is, it's counterfeit, it's fake. At best, it's an inferior product. In all likelihood, it's one that poses a severe electrical or fire risk at your house."

Agents seized more than $3 million worth of fake goods in 32 busts at the Savannah port last year.

"Just as drugs and people are smuggled into the United States, so are counterfeit goods. This is organized crime," says Jason Gialanella, regional agent-in-charge for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. "These are criminal organizations that work all over the world to introduce these goods into the legitimate flow of U.S. commerce. So we look at this as a very serious crime."

The products range from fake handbags and binoculars that eat at U.S. jobs to fake pharmeceuticals that pose a health risk.

Most of the products came from China, bound for flea markets and retail shops across the region.

Officials declined to say how many counterfeit importers have been prosecuted, since investigations are ongoing.