Over 20,000 fake Christian Louboutin shoes seized at LA/Long Beach port complex (slideshow)

Phony Louboutins

Nick Ut/AP

Pete Galles, U.S Customs and Border Protection officer, opens a box containing some of the more than 20,000 pairs of counterfeit luxury shoes seized Aug. 14, 2012 in Long Beach from a shipment from China. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Spokesman Jaime Ruiz says four shipments of fake Christian Louboutin shoes were seized Tuesday, and another shipment was seized July 27.

Phony Louboutins

Nick Ut/AP

Some of the more than 20,000 pairs of counterfeit luxury shoes seized Aug. 14, 2012 in Long Beach from a shipment from China are displayed. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Spokesman Jaime Ruiz says four shipments of fake Christian Louboutin shoes were seized Tuesday, and another shipment was seized July 27.

Phony Louboutins

Nick Ut/AP

Anne Maricich, Assistant Director, Trade, and U.S Customs and Border Protection, holds some of the more than 20,000 pairs of counterfeit luxury shoes seized Aug. 14, 2012 in Long Beach, Calif., from a shipment from China. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Spokesman Jaime Ruiz says four shipments of fake Christian Louboutin shoes were seized Tuesday, and another shipment was seized July 27.

Customers look at a pair of Christian Lo

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Customers look at a pair of the actual eye-catching Christian Louboutin heels at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Martini Launches The "Martini Royale Casting" With Designer Christian Louboutin To Find The Next Martini Star

Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images for Martini

An actual pair of Louboutins at the Design Museum with their signature red heels on May 23, 2012 in London, England.

Christian Louboutin Presents Le Carrosse Noir And The Loubi's Angels: 63rd Cannes Film Festival

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Designer Christian Louboutin with the real deal shoes at 'Le Carrosse Noir And The Loubi's Angels' at Palm Beach Casino during the 63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2010 in Cannes, France.

A picture shows a shoe at a preview of a

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

A pair of legitimate spiked Louboutins at a preview of an exhibition by French shoe designer Christian Louboutin showcasing 20 years of the famous red-soled shoes at the Design Museum in London on April 30, 2012.

Barney's Hosts The Launch Of Christian Louboutin's New Fall Collection

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Customers wearing Christian Louboutin shoes wait in line to have them signed by Christian Louboutin at the launch of his fall collection at Barneys New York on May 7, 2008 in Beverly Hills. Were they sporting real ones?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The fake heels sport red soles, well-known as part of the Christian Louboutin trademark.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer holds a pair of the counterfeit women's shoes.


This story has been updated.

Merchants of counterfeit Christian Louboutin shoes may see red in sales after over 20,000 pairs of the fakes were seized at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex.

On July 27, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and import specialists stopped a shipments of knockoffs from China worth about $7 million. An additional four shipments seized on Aug. 14 raised the shoe count to 20,457 pairs of women's footwear that violated Christian Louboutin's trademark. The shoes could have sold for a total of $18 million in the U.S., CBP spokesman Jaime Ruiz said.

The vaunted French designer's shoes come in an array of colors and styles, often commanding thousands of dollars per pair from well-heeled customers, including many celebrities. All pairs come with a signature red sole.

“The violation is the red sole. That’s a trademark of the shoes. They did not reproduce the name or the logo or anything like that,” Ruiz said. “We know by expertise that red soles are a protected trademark in the U.S. So we sent samples and communicated with Christian Louboutin — the legitimate owner of this trademark. They said, ‘No, those are not real, we aren’t expecting those shipments. In fact, we don’t make those shoes in China.’”

Ruiz said shippers only had their shoes confiscated for the first offense. If caught a second, officers open up an investigation. A third time could mean federal charges, including fines and jail time.

Ruiz added the shoes will most likely be destroyed — much to the horror of the fashion conscious.

The counterfeit shoes are often available on less scrupulous websites and other underground outlets. They're also often sold to users who are under the impression that they're the real deal, just discounted — significantly.

In the 2011 fiscal year, there were 1,020 seizures with a domestic value of over $37 million at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex. That's an 18 percent increase over 2010.

“This is just one example of the war against counterfeits,” Ruiz said. “We process thousands of items every week ranging from fake toothpaste, fake toilet paper, batteries, even aircraft parts.”

The coveted shoe brand is so iconic that even singer and actress Jennifer Lopez released a track waxing about a pair:

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