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Customs Officers Seize More Than $1 Billion Worth Of Counterfeit Products This Year

KEARNY, N.J. (CBS) -- Customs officers have seized more than $1 billion of counterfeit products this year.

CBS News' Kris Van Cleave reports customs officers are the front line in the battle against counterfeit goods. Authorities recently seized a shipping container from China loaded with thousands of pairs of what look like designer Ugg boots, but they're not.

"It's not labeled Uggs on the outer box," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Gabriel Richardson.

The street value of the seized Uggs was likely in the millions.

Last year, seizures jumped by 25 percent, and almost half came from mainland China, and 34 percent from Hong Kong.

Clothing, electronics, shoes, jewelry, watches and purses are counterfeiters' favorites, and this time of year, so are toys.

"Whatever's popular this season, that's what they're gonna try to get in," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Chief Officer Scott Rutledge.

Counterfeiters favorite items to place in the market include fake North Face and sports jerseys, and also fake Louis Vuitton Bags.

"You have to be cautious of who you are buying this from," said Rutledge. "If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Officers say there's so much money in counterfeit goods, they compare it to drug trafficking.

Rutledge says that some of the money from counterfeit goods goes to fund terrorism.

"It goes to criminal organizations and some of the proceeds have been linked back to funding of terrorist organizations," said Rutledge.

Over the past decade, Interpol has traced the profits from fake merchandise back to several terror groups, including al-Qaeda.

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