Federal agents raid bearings warehouse in SW Houston

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- No one is under arrest but the inventory at a ball bearing business in southwest Houston is dramatically depleted.

On Wednesday morning, federal agents from customs enforcement and homeland security executed a search warrant at Tex-Star Bearings. The business is located in an office park on Willowbend Boulevard.

Truckloads of ball bearings were loaded onto trucks. Labels attached by investigators listed the products as suspected counterfeit merchandise.

The bearings, according to Assistant Special Agent Richard Halverson with immigration and customs enforcement, range in size from a basketball to small ones. The bearings were found in containers with the names of well-known manufacturers in China. The seizure is to determine if the contents were switched out with inferior bearings.

Counterfeit parts are not new territory for customs enforcement. Compared with fake designer handbags, the stakes are high when it comes to bearings. They are used in everything from the tires in our cars, to air conditioners and airplanes.

If they are made of inferior metal or can't stand up to stress, the consequences could be serious.

No one answered the phones at the business after the raid, and the few employees outside the business did not comment.
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