"Counterfeit products cost law-abiding Americans their jobs by depriving legitimate companies of sales they would otherwise make," said special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer. "This is a problem that affects everyone. Criminals who sell counterfeit products don't pay taxes that go to supporting healthcare, paving roads and providing other vital government services. They are parasites on the legitimate businesses that drive our economy." Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provided aerial surveillance, and state law enforcement officers from the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Department of Public Safety, the Homewood Police Department and the Hoover Police Department assisted with Saturday's operation. The counterfeit seizures resulted from an ongoing surveillance operation by HSI to target vendors nationwide as part of two national initiatives – Operation Red Zone and Operation Holiday Hoax.
Operation Red Zone targets the illegal sale of counterfeit sports merchandise. Last year HSI New Orleans led the nation in counterfeit NFL merchandise seizures with more than 7,100 items at an MSRP of more than $1 million. As the host city of the upcoming Super Bowl, Parmer said HSI special agents are particularly focused on the identification and seizure of counterfeit sports memorabilia ahead of the game.
The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is in the midst of conducting Operation Holiday Hoax, an annual enforcement operation targeting the sale of counterfeit and pirated merchandise during the holiday season. HSI and CBP are coordinating with their IPR Center partners to ensure consumers are buying and receiving safe, legitimate products. Specifically, Holiday Hoax targets counterfeit apparel, toys and personal electronics, and pirated CDs /DVDs.
For more information on the IPR Center please visit www.IPRCenter.gov.