At a Thursday morning press conference, federal agents with ICE HSI announced the seizure of more than 176,000 counterfeit sports-related items, worth an estimated $123 million manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), through a collaborative enforcement operation with CBP targeting international shipments of counterfeit merchandise into the United States. The National Football League and Miami-Dade Police department joined ICE and CBP for the announcement just days before Super Bowl LIV.
Through the ongoing initiative known as Operation Team Player, developed by the HSI-led IPR Center, ICE and CBP join with state and local law enforcement partners across the country, targeting the illegal manufacture, import, and distribution of counterfeit sports merchandise.
“Every day, cargo containers containing billions of dollars’ worth of counterfeit goods enter the United States through its land, sea and air ports of entry. This year’s record-breaking ‘Operation Team Player’ results affirm HSI’s commitment to protecting American consumers, the economy, and legitimate business, by ensuring the Super Bowl is not compromised by transnational criminal networks exploiting fan enthusiasm for illicit profits,” said HSI-led IPR Center Director Steve Francis.
Special agents from HSI teamed with industry partners, CBP, Miami-Dade police officers and other agencies to identify flea markets, retail outlets and street vendors selling counterfeit goods during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV. They seized fake jerseys, jewelry, hats, cell-phone accessories and thousands of other bogus items prepared to be sold to unsuspecting consumers.
The IPR Center – formally codified in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 – is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The center uses the expertise of its 25 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft and its enforcement of international trade laws.
The Super Bowl is one of the largest sporting events of the year, with an estimated 65,000 expected in Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday. In the days leading up to the game, upwards of one million people have attended and taken part in various Super Bowl-related events.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated the Super Bowl a Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) 1 event. The rating determines the risk level for events that may be considered as potential threat targets and helps determine the security resources needed for the event.
To support federal law enforcement security efforts for an event of this magnitude, HSI is using two of its five mobile command centers. One is focused on supporting the maritime security operations in South Florida and a second one is being used to help combat human trafficking.
HSI’s mobile command centers support operations in national security events where stand-alone voice and data networks are needed. The centers also have high speed internet, satellite and cellular connections and possess the ability to support all radio frequencies used by everyone from law enforcement to amateur radio owners.
The following video gives a sneak peek at how HSI’s mobile command centers are keeping fans safe in Miami.
ICE Homeland Security Investigations is committed to ending human trafficking and rescuing those who fall victim to this horrifying criminal activity. Watch as HSI Special Agent Katina Hernandez discusses the agency’s efforts in and around Miami as Super Bowl LIV is about to take place Sunday, February 2, 2020.
As a member of HSI’s human trafficking group in Miami, Special Agent Hernandez shares some of the key indicators that many human trafficking victims display as the agency works to educate the public and enlist their support in uncovering instances of possible human trafficking throughout South Florida in the runup to the big game.
The Miami area, she says, poses a unique set of operational challenges with its beaches, nightlife and general party-like atmosphere. The flurry of activity associated with a sporting event the magnitude of the Super Bowl makes it all the more likely criminal organizations will seek to exploit the massive crowds with increased criminal activity.