PITTSBURGH - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced the results thus far of a month-long enforcement initiative specifically targeting counterfeit NHL Winter Classic-related sportswear coming into the Pittsburgh area. Working with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), ICE agents have seized 792 items of counterfeit National Hockey League sportswear, National Football League jerseys and other counterfeit merchandise, estimated to be worth $100,000 as Pittsburgh prepares to host the NHL Winter Classic.
The jerseys, hats, T-shirts and other souvenirs were confiscated by agents in the last month as they came into Pittsburgh through various international mail facilities. Although most of the seized items were purporting to be NHL merchandise, agents also seized counterfeit NFL jerseys and fake Ugg boots and counterfeits of brand name shoes, purses and apparel. The seizures are part of a crackdown on intellectual property rights (IPR) violations in the Pittsburgh area as it prepares for the New Year's Day hockey game.
"Around every major sports event in this country, these unscrupulous entrepreneurs take advantage of fan fever to sell the whole range of products bearing the trademark and names of the teams involved," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Philadelphia. "They use inferior materials to pump out look-alikes that do not benefit the teams, the players or the associations that have trademarked these goods. Counterfeiting hurts the consumer, it hurts business and it costs American jobs."
"The NHL very much appreciates the efforts of ICE, CBP, and USPIS to protect NHL fans from being victimized by counterfeiters and to ensure that legitimate businesses playing by the rules will not be harmed by these illicit activities," said Tom Prochnow, group vice president, legal and business affairs for NHL Enterprises, L.P., the licensing and marketing arm of the National Hockey League.
"Customs and Border Protection serves as America's leading border security agency charged with intercepting counterfeit merchandise and medications, illicit narcotics and fraudulent identity documents at our nation's ports of entry," said Allan Martocci, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia, senior port to the Port of Pittsburgh. "CBP remains committed to working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to protect American consumers against products that hurt us and that hurt American businesses."
"The Postal Inspection Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have pooled resources to intercept and investigate the shipment of counterfeit merchandise being sent through the U.S. Mail. Our goal is to protect postal customers from receiving goods that are not authentic and to eliminate the criminal enterprises that utilize the mail in furtherance of these schemes," said Robin Dalgleish, inspector in charge of the USPIS Pittsburgh Division. "The Pittsburgh area is well known for the success of its professional sports teams. With the Winter Classic about to be played here, we anticipated that scammers selling counterfeit jerseys would step up their efforts to defraud area residents, as we also step up our efforts to conduct these interdictions."
In the last month, ICE special agents working with CBP officers and USPIS inspectors, scanned the mails for the counterfeit merchandise and detained them for further investigation.
In 2009, ICE and its partners seized goods with a total domestic value of more than $260 million. Last year, during the holidays, ICE, its federal, state and local partners and the government of Mexico seized more than $26 million worth of products in locations around the United States.
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. ICE HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.
ICE manages the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which plays a pivotal role in the U.S. government's domestic and international law enforcement attack on IPR violations.