SOUTH BEND, Ind. – More than 3,000 counterfeit items were seized by authorities during the execution of four state search warrants at local businesses Wednesday.
The search warrants were executed by the Indiana State Excise Police, with assistance from the South Bend Police Department’s Violent Crime Impact Unit and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The counterfeit merchandise seized included shoes, hats, purses, various clothing items and other luxury accessories. These items were found to be imitations of name-brand merchandise, such as: Nike Air Jordan, Michael Kors, Timberland, North Face, Polo, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.
No arrests were made at the time the search warrants were executed. This investigation is ongoing and will be forwarded to the St. Joseph (Indiana) County Prosecutor’s Office upon completion.
"The sale of counterfeit merchandise is a crime the State Excise Police often encounter during administrative investigations of alcoholic beverage and tobacco businesses,” said Matt Strittmatter, Superintendent of the Indiana Excise Police. “Likewise, excise officers have developed skills to conduct these investigations. This is a crime that puts consumers at risk and costs the manufacturers of legitimate products millions of dollars annually. Moreover, it is important to ensure the proceeds gleaned from the sale of counterfeit products are not used to finance other criminal enterprises."
All criminal defendants are to be presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.
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 23 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.
To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.