WETUMPKA, Ala. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in coordination with Alabama state police and the Elmore County Sheriff's Department seized approximately 60,000 counterfeit items from an Alabama flea market Saturday worth a total manufacturer's suggested retail price of more than $2.04 million. The seized items include counterfeit designer clothing, handbags, shoes, sportswear and electronics.
HSI seized counterfeit merchandise from 47 vendors offering fraudulent items for sale within the Santuk Flea Market located at 7300 Central Plank Road in Wetumpka following a six month federal investigation by HSI special agents. ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers also arrested two individuals for immigration-related violations. The flea market itself and legitimate vendors on the premises remained open during the operation.
"Criminals who sell counterfeit products are economic parasites who harm legitimate businesses that pay taxes, create jobs and support our national economy," said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "Anyone who thinks counterfeiting is a victimless crime should realize the profits of these black-market sales are routinely diverted to support further criminal activity such as drug trafficking, money laundering and even potential terrorism."
Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
HSI seized counterfeit merchandise infringing upon the trademarks of more than 30 different brands to include Michael Kors, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Coach, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Football League (NFL). Approximately 100 HSI, state and local law enforcement officers participated in the Saturday operation.
These seizures were part of Operation Team Player, a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center)-led initiative that targets the sale and trafficking of counterfeit sports merchandise and apparel, a multimillion dollar criminal industry. The trafficking of these items is a lucrative business for criminals and becomes more profitable in markets involving successful and popular teams. The culmination of the sports season, all-star games and the playoffs are events that especially stimulate the sale of counterfeit items in local communities around the country.
The HSI-led IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.
For more information on the IPR Center please visit www.IPRCenter.gov.
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. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.