- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2005

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is giving more than 100,000 items of new clothing valued at $2.3 million — most of it seized designer knockoffs — to the victims of Hurricane Katrina who have been evacuated to Texas, the agency said yesterday.

A convoy of CBP trucks, loaded Monday and Tuesday with hundreds of cartons of clothing by agents at field offices in Houston, Dallas, Laredo and El Paso, made its way to the Houston Astrodome complex this week to deliver the goods.

“We feel that these clothing items, especially with the potential for children who will be attending schools in Texas, will be useful to those individuals who were displaced by the devastating hurricane along the Gulf Coast,” said Robert Trotter, CBP’s director of field operations in Houston.

“CBP’s mission is to protect the nation from terrorists and their weapons, but today we’re here to lift the nation’s spirit as well,” Mr. Trotter said. “We can’t emphasize enough how glad we are that we had this clothing in our warehouses and could bring it to the relief effort here.”

All of the clothing had been seized by CBP officers for violations of U.S. trademark laws.

CBP spokeswoman Judy Turner in Houston said shipments arriving at the Astrodome included girls’ and boys’ jeans and shorts, women’s slacks and blouses, men’s jeans and polo shirts and lightweight jackets, and other seasonally appropriate clothing.

In fiscal 2004, Ms. Turner said, 411 fines were issued for counterfeit trademarks and 7,255 seizures were made of intellectual property rights valued at $138.8 million. She said CBP has authority under a federal statue to donate these items when the president declares a state of emergency, as President Bush did for Hurricane Katrina.

Accepting the donation for the relief effort were representatives from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston in conjunction with the American Red Cross.

Several CBP officers were on hand to help unload the cartons at the Reliant Astrodome donation site.

CBP is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of the nation’s borders at and between the official ports of entry. The agency is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

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