A warning for Black Friday shoppers: Customs agents are tracking counterfeit goods making their way into Houston, and they warn that buying the items could put you and your family in danger.
"Buying counterfeit goods is fueling crime," said Homeland Security special agent Rich Halverson. "It's giving money to people that are stealing."
Just last weekend, officers arrested five people and charged them with trademark counterfeiting. Police say Ana Hernandez, Isabel Marina Jimenez-Flores, Carlos Amilcar Duran-Hernandez and Sandra Yaneth Duran were in possession of counterfeit purses and duffle bags worth thousands of dollars.
Federal agents say they were selling them at a store on Harwin Drive and another discount store on Airline Drive.
"This is beginning to become a crime of choice for these criminals because they think it's low-risk, high-value," said Halverson.
Some of the items seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security are easy to identify as fakes, like the PCP station or the game console labeled FunStation 3. Other items, like a Chi flat iron, look like the real deal.
"This one is missing a fuse," Halverson said about the iron. "You plug it in. You forget about it; and instead of shutting off automatically, it's going to overheat. That may burn down your house."
Counterfeit toys are often tainted with lead and dangerous chemicals banned in children's toys in the U.S.
When officers discover the fakes coming into Houston's port they try to trace the suppliers, but millions of dollars in goods are getting past agents and making their way to store shelves in Houston.
All of the individuals arrested in the bust last weekend were undocumented immigrants from El Salvador with prior criminal records.
"They're stealing jobs," said Halverson. "They're stealing money and it's all on the backs of the companies that put their effort and money into creating these various goods."