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Federal agents seize more than 100,000 counterfeit N95 masks in Texas

Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 9:40 PM CST
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EL PASO, Texas (Gray News) - More than 100,000 counterfeit 3M N95 surgical masks intended for hospital workers in the United States were seized by federal agents on Monday.

The masks were packaged to look like 3M products. The retail value of the shipment found at the Texas warehouse was more than $600,000, according to a statement released Wednesday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Federal agents seized more than 100,000 counterfeit N-95 masks in Texas on Monday.
Federal agents seized more than 100,000 counterfeit N-95 masks in Texas on Monday.(U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

With the help from 3M and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, the agents were able to determine that the masks were counterfeit.

“The seizure of these counterfeit surgical masks not only ensures the health and safety of our frontline health care workers by preventing them from receiving inferior personal protective equipment, it also protects the integrity of the American economy,” said Erik P. Breitzke with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Federal agents seized more than 100,000 counterfeit N-95 masks in Texas on Monday.
Federal agents seized more than 100,000 counterfeit N-95 masks in Texas on Monday.(U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

He says ICE and HSI will “continue to aggressively investigate, arrest and prosecute criminal counterfeits who show a total disregard for human life and take advantage of a relentless world pandemic for economic gain.”

In April 2020, ICE and CBP launched “Operation Stolen Promise” to protect the U.S. from the “increasing and evolving threat posed by COVID-19-related fraud and criminal activity.” According to ICE, the operation has yielded more than 187 arrests and $28 million in recovered assets.

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