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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reports that the U.S. and Hong Kong governments will share $20.5 million in forfeited assets seized as part of a probe into what is believed to be the largest commercial fraud scheme ever uncovered on the West Coast. These assets include more than 200 shipping containers of clothing, a 100,000 square foot warehouse in California, and business and residential locations in California and Texas. Additionally, investigators seized or obtained restraining orders against two dozen bank accounts in the U.S. and Hong Kong.
According to an ICE press release, this action is the culmination of an investigation originally launched by the former U.S. Customs Service in 2000 into a multinational criminal organization responsible for smuggling hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Chinese-made wearing apparel into the U.S. through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. To avoid import duties and quotas, the organization’s operatives provided documents to customs brokers falsely stating that the Chinese-made garments were being sold to companies in Mexico when they were being delivered to buyers throughout the U.S. Investigators estimated the loss of customs revenues alone at more than $60 million.
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