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Dollar Tree's alleged Minnesota Barbie smuggling should be a bigger story

Note: The doll heads found as part of this smuggling scandal were CEO Barbie. Her predecessor Malibu Barbie, seen here, was not implicated in the alleged crime.

Note: The doll heads found as part of this smuggling scandal were CEO Barbie. Her predecessor Malibu Barbie, seen here, was not implicated in the alleged crime. Bloomberg

Let's be honest: Barbie's problematic.

Or was for most of her existence on this earth. These days, Mattel's iconic doll comes in a wider range of body types, ethnicities, outfits, and personalities than ever before. Per Wikipedia, Barbie's "So In Style" line of the blonde babe's "friends" now come in "seven skin tones, twenty-two eye colors, and twenty-four hair styles." 

Attempting cultural inclusivity: It's even for pieces of plastic!

If a child you know wants a Barbie but you're still resisting the Amazon apocalypse, you might consider grabbing a $3 "mini doll" at a Dollar Tree, which advertises each Barbie as coming with a "solid color dress" of the kid's choosing, plus "a second snap-on fashion that features a trendy pattern and decorative details in complementary colors."

But be warned: That doll might make for a decent present, but it could also be evidence of a years-long international criminal racket aimed at fooling children and infringing on a longstanding U.S.-held copyright.

Last week, the Department of Justice announced civil forefiture proceedings against Greenbrier International Inc., parent company to Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree's owners are accused of attempting to import more than 21,000 foreign-made Barbie-esque dolls, which Mattel says come with the same head as their "CEO Barbie" line.

CEO Barbie, by the way, appears to have been discontinued, though ambitious youngsters can now live out their dreams as a doctor, teacher, or... president of the United States.

The dolls were picked off in Rainier, a Minnesota-Canadian border community with a big history for such a small town. On its website, the city brags that it has: "participated in a genuine gold rush, outfitted trappers and timber cruisers, supervised a large scale commercial fishing industry, served as a trade center for the Native American/First Nation population throughout the watershed and played host to lumberjacks and roustabouts."

Roustabouts! Neat!

More in keeping with this alleged Barbie-smuggling scheme, the town was also a pretty good place to score illegal hootch during Prohbition. Cantilever Distilling proudly harkens back to a "pipeline to liquid libations that would entertain not only the Northwoods but consistently reach as far as Chicago and beyond." So clearly this place has seen some... interesting folks and products pass through town.

As the DoJ points out, this isn't even Dollar Tree's first time running afoul of Mattel in the city of Ranier. "In 2016, Greenbrier attempted to import 13,296 Mermaid fashion dolls that were seized at the border by CBP for infringement of the CEO Barbie head sculpt," reads the press release. "In both instances, the counterfeit dolls originated from the same exporter/shipper located in Hong Kong."

Is it wrong to run a scam that could cost a big American corporation lots of money? Sometimes, yes. Is it wrong to try fooling little kids with a cheap knockoff instead of the real thing? 

Every. Damn. Time.

We say if you're gonna sneak something through Ranier, make it some kind of weird booze we can't get in America yet. It's a tradition around there... and besides, mom and dad could use a drink.