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Intellectual Property Rights
02/15/2010

ICE seizes $197,000 worth of counterfeit items

Counterfeit NBA basketball jerseys, T-shirts and other merchandise was seized from area merchants

Counterfeit goods
Counterfeit goods

DALLAS - More than $197,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise was seized by local agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the four-day events leading up to the National Basketball Association's (NBA) All-Star 2010 game played in Dallas on Sunday.

The 4,062 pieces of counterfeit merchandise were seized by ICE agents who worked closely with the following local law enforcement agencies: Dallas Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff's Office, Dallas County District Attorney's Office, and Arlington Police Department. These plain-clothes law enforcement officers, working in teams, seized counterfeit items from Dallas-area merchants, as well as vendors who hawked their wares at the Dallas Convention Center and the American Airlines Center in Dallas, and at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"These trademark counterfeiters rip off consumers by selling sub-standard products," said John Morton, assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "They also rob U.S. industries to the tune of over $250 billion annually; and they rip off U.S. workers who lose 750,000 jobs to counterfeiters every year. These counterfeits represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy, and sometimes dangerous, goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs."

In addition to the NBA All-Star events, these law enforcement teams also visited impromptu vendors at All-Star event parking lots, hotel parking lots and flea markets - anywhere where counterfeit vendors have historically tried to make a quick buck selling their bootlegged merchandise.

Some of the counterfeit items seized include: 522 NBA- and NFL-labeled jerseys (estimated at $91,350), 3,341 T-shirts (estimated at $100,230), 37 hats (estimated at $1,110), 150 heat transfers (estimated at $4,500), and 11 car decals (estimated at $220). The grand total value for these seizures is estimated at $197,410. Since the counterfeit merchandise was marketed for NBA's All-Star game, many NBA-team logos were represented. All the seized items will be warehoused until they can be disposed of.

During the month leading up to the National Football League's Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, ICE seized more than $155,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise in Miami. Next year the Super Bowl is scheduled to be held in Dallas. ICE and its law enforcement partners are already gearing up to give the counterfeit merchandisers a run for their money.

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. ICE investigations focus not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.

The ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center is one of the U.S. Government's key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting. Both law enforcement and the private sector are able to address the growing transnational threat of counterfeit merchandise through the IPR Center. The IPR Center coordinates outreach to U.S. rights holders and conducts domestic and international law enforcement training to stem the growing counterfeiting threat as well as coordinating and directing anti-counterfeiting investigations.

In 2009, ICE and its IPR Center partners seized goods with a total domestic value of more than $260 million. Counterfeit shoes - most of them sports apparel - were the leading commodity seized during the last four years.