ABILENE, Texas - More than $ 100,000 worth of counterfeit clothing items was seized at three local businesses on Thursday by agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The 2,785 pieces of counterfeit merchandise were seized by ICE agents who worked closely with the Abilene Police Department. The seized merchandise is estimated to be worth about $106,000 in retail cost.
"These counterfeits cause legitimate U.S. industries to lose billions in revenue annually which deny Americans good-paying jobs," said John Chakwin, special agent in charge of the ICE HSI office in Dallas. "Counterfeits may be funded by criminal organizations, and they deliver shoddy and sometimes dangerous goods into commerce."
The three Abilene businesses are located on N. Judge Ely Blvd., N. Mockingbird Lane, and S. 14th St. Since this is an ongoing investigation, the business names are not being released at this time.
The targeted stores have been previously identified as openly selling counterfeit clothing through the store fronts. ICE HSI agents had conducted surveillance and made undercover purchases at all three locations. Items purchased through the undercover operations were determined to be counterfeit by industry representatives.
Some of the counterfeit items seized include: t-shirts, polo shirts, jeans, purses, hats, jackets and sweatshirts.
The counterfeit brands include, but are not limited to the following trademarks: Nike, Hollister Co., Abercrombie, Addidas, Ed Hardy, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Tapout, DC Shoes, Fox Racing, Famous, Puma, and Puma.
All the seized items will be warehoused until they can be disposed of.
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. ICE investigations focus not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.
The U.S. coordinating body, the IPR Center, is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against IP theft. The IPR Center offers one-stop shopping for both law enforcement and the private sector to address the growing transnational threat of counterfeit merchandise. The IPR Center coordinates outreach to U.S. rights holders and conducts domestic and international law enforcement training to stem the growing counterfeiting threat as well as coordinating and directing anti-counterfeiting investigations. To learn more about the IPR Center, read tips for holiday buying, and see the Intellectual Property Rights Seizure Statistics for FY 2009, go to www.ice.gov.
The public is encouraged to report information on counterfeiting and trademark violations at the IPR toll-free hotline: (866) IPR-2060.