The Obama administration is cracking down on the import and distribution of counterfeit consumer electronics that could present health risks to consumers, including by overheating and igniting.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Justice will work together to implement Operation Surge Protector. ICE said the effort will focus on counterfeit consumer electronic goods like digital media devices, power adapters and goods that use lithium ion batteries.
ICE said the initiative is being launched because border agents have carried out more than 17,000 seizures of counterfeit goods over a three-year period that end in fiscal year 2015. It said the operation would provide more resources to agents and allow them to track indictments and convictions.
"We are committed to conducting aggressive investigations and targeting individuals who would violate consumer trust by recklessly selling dangerous imitation products," said ICE–Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director Peter Edge.
The operation will be coordinated by ICE's National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, and the Justice Department has said it would continue to prosecute traffickers and importers of counterfeit goods.
The effort was announced less than two weeks before Christmas, weeks after many of the goods that could get caught up by the operation have already landed in the U.S. market.
One of the counterfeit items mentioned by ICE was hoverboards. ICE said it seized about $46 million worth of these counterfeit products in the last fiscal year.
ICE said seizures of those products and others prompted the government to review and revamp its efforts to seize counterfeit goods.