CHICAGO — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized $181,215 worth of counterfeit National Hockey League (NHL) gear and other merchandise in Chicago and Tampa surrounding the 2015 Stanley Cup Final and during Thursday’s Chicago Blackhawks victory celebration.
The enforcement initiative, dubbed Operation Team Player, resulted in the seizure of 4,376 items, including fake jerseys, hats, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs. The $181,215 value is based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the counterfeit NHL merchandise.
These seizures were part of a crackdown on intellectual property rights (IPR) violators leading up to and during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, as well as during the Blackhawks victory parade and celebration Thursday. Operation Team Player is an effort by the HSI-led IPR Center that targets counterfeit sports merchandise from all major U.S. sports leagues.
Large sporting events such as the Stanley Cup Final are prime targets for counterfeiters, many of whom travel the country with the sole intention of scamming innocent sports fans. According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, businesses worldwide lose an estimated $600 to 700 billion annually due to counterfeiting.
"The NHL very much appreciates the efforts of HSI and local law enforcement to protect hockey 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 the NHL.
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, many of which reinvest illicit funds into other illegal enterprises, such as drug and weapons trafficking.
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’s 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 intellectual property theft or learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.