JCA Clamps Down On Illicit Merchandise

Photo: JIS Photographer Commissioner of Customs, Major Richard Reese.

Story Highlights

  • Importers and distributors are being cautioned against marketing counterfeit products
  • The agency has ramped up its activities in seizing illicit merchandise
  • Hong Kong Customs successfully interdicted an illicit container of cigarettes destined for Jamaica

Importers and distributors are being cautioned against marketing counterfeit products by the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), as it moves to clamp down on Intellectual Property rights infringements.

In recent months, the agency has ramped up its activities in seizing illicit merchandise, which include clothing, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals as well as appliances. This has been done in collaboration with Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Speaking at a media briefing on September 19 at the JCA headquarters in Kingston, Commissioner of Customs, Major (ret’d) Richard Reese, warned importers and distributors that should they engage in this practice, it will result in the seizure and destruction of the products and also penalties and fines.

“A number of these products are seasonal and cyclical, for instance school bags, so we will be conducting targeted operations for these types of products which come on the market at a particular time and we will be more proactive in our interdiction and detection,” he said.

Commissioner Reese informed that the competence of the Jamaica Customs staff in detecting counterfeit products has improved through a series of training seminars with various rights holders and the World Customs Organization, which has resulted in the increased number of successful seizures to date.

He noted that Hong Kong Customs successfully interdicted an  illicit container of cigarettes destined for Jamaica. In addition, Jamaica Customs was successful in seizing a 40-foot container of cigarettes bearing the ‘Craven A’ mark.

“These represent significant achievements because had these items been released into the market, we would not have had the desired levels of duties and taxes and in addition, it would have had an adverse effect on the legal right holders,” he said.

Commissioner Reese further informed that Jamaica Customs was also successful in seizing counterfeit Jansport bags. He noted of the 2,700 bags seized, approximately 50 per cent were counterfeit.

He pointed out that although duties were paid on some of these illicit items, “the fact is that they are counterfeit, so they are still illegal and the end result will be destruction of them, because we couldn’t resell them in the market. ”

“This operation may appear very straightforward to the public, but in order for us to engage in these operations, it also requires us to have arrangements with the rights holders…So, it is not just a matter of taking action where we determine that these counterfeit goods exist, but we also have to have these arrangements with the trademark holders, because they have to be prepared to go to court to verify that the item is in fact counterfeit and also to give technical evidence,” he informed.

The Commissioner  encouraged local manufacturers to register their products to ensure that if there are any breaches, “they can have the same arrangements in place in order for us to ensure the necessary protection.”

Anyone having information on counterfeit goods can call Crime Stop at 311 or 1-888-991-4000 or email Jamaica Customs at: quick.response@jacustoms.gov.jm.

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