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Intellectual Property Rights

ICE search warrants net 60,760 counterfeit items worth nearly $28.4 million

TAMPA, Fla. — Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents executed five federal search warrants in an intellectual property rights investigation related to counterfeit goods in Tampa.

Preliminary estimates had indicated that the search netted about 50,000 counterfeit items with a manufacturer suggested retail price of nearly $5 million. After a final analysis of the items seized, the search netted a total of 60,760 counterfeit items with a manufacturer suggested retail price of $28.4 million.

The items were seized from a local flea market, three storage units and a box truck.

One of ICE HSI's responsibilities is to conduct investigations into counterfeiting or intellectual property theft.

"Intellectual property theft is a crime that hurts legitimate business and is often tied to other types of criminal activities in our area," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Tampa.

According to the agents who investigate these cases, in recent years, counterfeiting, piracy and other intellectual property rights (IPR) violations have grown in magnitude and complexity. These crimes are a triple threat to the United States because they rob Americans of jobs, divert legitimate revenue from responsible industries to the pockets of organized crime, and create health and safety risks for the American consumers. This encourages the cheap production of everything from substandard goods to tainted pharmaceutical products.

The items seized in this investigation will be processed as evidence and eventually destroyed. No charges or arrests have been made.

ICE HSI manages the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR 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 19 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 the war fighters.

To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.