The Department of Justice reports that three people have pleaded guilty to participating in an international conspiracy to import knock-off jewelry from the Philippines and misrepresent it as Native American-made. The defendants, who were charged with entry of goods by means of false statements, smuggling goods, and other violations, face penalties of up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000. 

According to a DOJ press release, from January 2016 through February 2019 these individuals conspired with each other and others to design jewelry in the Native American style, manufacture it in the Philippines, import it without the indelible markings required by law, and display, advertise, and sell it to customers based on false representations that it was made by Native Americans in the U.S. As part of this scheme the individuals removed “Made in the Philippines” stickers from bags of imported jewelry and used the U.S. Postal Service and private commercial shipping services to avoid inspection by federal authorities at ports of entry.

The DOJ notes that the Indian Arts and Crafts Act prohibits the sale, or offer or display for sale, of any good in a manner that falsely suggests that it is produced by Native Americans, a Native American product, or the product of a particular Native American and Native American tribe. This law covers all Native American and Native American-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935 and broadly applies to the marketing of arts and crafts by any person in the U.S.

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