US customs seizes Mercedes-Benz counterfeits
OET officers discovered the stolen vehicles ready for exportation while conducting an outreach operation at two major Southern California vehicle export facilities, in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
NICB participated by verifying the compiled list of the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)s with the financial institutions then CHP initiated the C180 stolen report as liens/loans were discovered unsatisfied by the financial institution on all these vehicles. The estimated combined value of the recovered vehicles is $1,885,415.00.
“This significant recovery attests to CBP officers’ vigilance, commitment and expertise in effectively enforcing export fraud laws in close collaboration with our long-standing state and industry partners,” said Carlos C. Martel CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles.
“By defrauding vehicle dealerships, financial and insurance companies, international thieves negatively impact the economy and consequently the American consumer.”
“The California Highway Patrol’s Foreign Export and Recovery Team takes great pride in the work they do alongside Customs and Border Protection and the National Insurance Crime Bureau. CHP Investigators are able to assist with the recovery of vehicles which were stolen through fraudulent means,” said CHP Border Division Assistant Chief Don Goodbrand.
“The vehicles in this investigation were declared for export out of the United States, but due to the hard work of the CHP, CBP, and NICB all vehicles were returned to their rightful owners.”
“NICB is pleased to assist in this effort to recover vehicles that have been stolen from lenders, many of whom are NICB members,” said NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle, “We provide our support to CBP on a daily basis and are encouraged by their proactive efforts at the Seaport to stop the flow of illegally exported vehicles out of the country.”
At any given day, CBP officers at the LA/Long Beach Seaport process 700 to 1,200 vehicles for exportation. While the vast majority comply with federal and state regulation, there is a global black market where foreign individuals are willing to pay a premium for desired luxury brands and vintage models regardless of importation fraud schemes.
“As one of our critical missions, CBP commits substantial resources to outbound enforcement, and as a result our officers are keen in detecting, intercepting and seizing illegal goods and cargo,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, CBP LA/Long Beach Seaport Port Director. “I’m extremely proud of the officers involved and pleased with the result of this operation”.
Processed individually, CBP turned over the recovered vehicles to state authorities for further investigation and return to rightful owners.
In fiscal year 2018, CBP at Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport seized 66 vehicles heading overseas. Of that total: 40 stolen, 11 with odometer rollback, five undervalued, six had fraudulent documents, one concealing weapons/arms and three unlicensed/military vehicles. Total value of fiscal year 2018 seizures is $4.3million. ■