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Intellectual Property Rights
07/12/2012

HSI, Kansas City-area law enforcement seize more than $540,000 in fake MLB merchandise

The largest local counterfeit ball-cap distributor is closed down

HSI, Kansas City-area law enforcement seize more than $540,000 in fake MLB merchandise
HSI, Kansas City-area law enforcement seize more than $540,000 in fake MLB merchandise
HSI, Kansas City-area law enforcement seize more than $540,000 in fake MLB merchandise
HSI, Kansas City-area law enforcement seize more than $540,000 in fake MLB merchandise
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and officers from other law enforcement agencies seized more than $540,000 in counterfeit Major League Baseball (MLB) merchandise during a two-week operation ending with Tuesday night's MLB All-Star Game.

The joint enforcement operation targeted stores, Internet sellers and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear during the MLB All-Star Game week.

Fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts and other souvenirs are among the illicit merchandise and apparel confiscated by teams led by HSI, in partnership with MLB.

HSI special agents and officials from other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies operated in multiple teams to identify and seize counterfeit trademarked items, including counterfeit All-Star Game tickets which were being sold at Kansas City's Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium to unsuspecting buyers.

During the 14-day operation, HSI special agents seized 13,023 items in more than 30 targeted seizures of phony sports-related apparel, fake tickets and memorabilia for a total take of more than $540,000.

"Selling counterfeit goods is stealing," said Gilbert Trill, assistant special agent in charge of HSI Kansas City. "Counterfeit goods steal U.S. jobs, create inferior and sometimes dangerous products, and support criminal organizations."

Authorities also closed a warehouse in Lenexa, Kan., which is believed to be responsible for distributing the majority of all counterfeit ball caps sold in the Kansas City area. This single operation nearly doubled the overall seizure amounts HSI special agents had prior to the start of the July 10 All-Star Game.

Seizures took place in a variety of communities throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area including: Platte Woods, Mo.; Liberty, Mo.; Shawnee Kan.; Merriam, Kan.; and Lenexa, Kan.

During this operation, nearly 20 percent of the items seized represent goods from other sports leagues, including the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League.

The operation was led by HSI Kansas City in cooperation with the following agencies: the Kansas City (Mo.) Police Department; the Clay County (Mo.) Sheriff's Office; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Missouri State Highway Patrol; the Independence (Mo.) Police Department; the Jackson County (Mo.) Sheriff's Office; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This investigation was supported by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and our war fighters. For more information on the IPR Center please visit www.IPRCenter.gov.