Dwight E. Wilcoxson, 53, Anthony A. Hunter, 47, and Darryl A. Wesby, 45, are each charged with conspiring to transport and sell counterfeit tickets to the Feb. 3 Super Bowl in New Orleans. Hunter and Wilcoxson are also charged with possession of counterfeit U.S. currency.
"Counterfeit goods steal revenue from legitimate businesses that pay taxes and employ workers, but counterfeit tickets also rip off unsuspecting fans who are left without their money and without a ticket," said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer, Jr. "Organized criminals prey on the excitement surrounding big events; the public should remember any item that seems ‘too good to be true’ should be cause for caution and concern." Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
If convicted of trafficking counterfeit Super Bowl tickets, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $2 million fine. Wilcoxson and Hunter also face 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the counterfeiting charge.
Nationwide, an ICE-led enforcement operation seized a record amount of counterfeit National Football League (NFL) merchandise this season through 'Operation Red Zone,' which began Sept. 1 and concluded Feb. 6. ICE and its partner agencies seized more than 196,000 counterfeit items including fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs with a total manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of more than $17.3 million. Special agents from ICE HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and state and local police departments around the country worked in partnership with the NFL and other major sports leagues during the operation.
This year additional focus was placed on identifying and seizing counterfeit tickets to the Super Bowl. In all, 168 tickets were seized with an MSRP of more than $154,000. Forty-one individuals were arrested nationwide during the operation, including six federal and 35 state and local arrests.
HSI encourages the public to report intellectual property rights violations and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by visiting www.ICE.gov/tips.