In their annual pre-Super Bowl counterfeit gear strike the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency this week said it has grabbed 326,147 items of phony sports memorabilia and other fake items worth more than $19.5 million and made 52 arrests.
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In its “Operation Team Player” fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs are confiscated by teams of special agents and officers from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, CBP, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and state and local police departments around the country – all in partnership with the NFL and other major sports leagues.
“Counterfeiting is not a game,” said ICE Director Sarah Saldaña. “It is most certainly not a victimless crime either. Whether it’s the child in Southeast Asia working in deplorable conditions, or local stores going out of business, intellectual property theft is a very real crime with very real victims. No good comes from counterfeiting American products regardless of whether they are all-star jerseys, airbags, or aspirin.”
This year’s operation began immediately following the conclusion of Super Bowl XLVIII and targeted international shipments of counterfeit merchandise as it entered the United States. Authorities identified warehouses, stores, flea markets, online vendors and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear and tickets throughout the country, ICE stated.
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