Federal authorities have seized 1,500 counterfeit Hermes handbags from China at the Port of Los Angeles, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.
Genuine Hermes leather bags retail for thousands of dollars apiece. The two shipments, discovered Feb. 12 and Feb. 26, would be worth as much as $14 million if sold at full price, the customs agency said.
Importing counterfeit purses and wallets has been on the rise, with a 142% increase in the value of goods seized in 2012 compared with the previous year, the agency said in a statement. Of the $511 million in counterfeit bags seized in 2012, the vast majority were made in China, it said.
To increase profit margins, counterfeit manufacturers are increasingly turning toward ultra-high-end brands such as Hermes and Fendi, said Jaime Ruiz, an agency spokesman.