HONOLULU - With the Pro Bowl kickoff fast approaching, special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) here in the host city seized more than 135 items of counterfeit NFL apparel Wednesday in an operation targeting vendors at two popular Honolulu-area swap meets, including one based at the stadium where Sunday's game will be played.
The merchandise seized during Wednesday's enforcement actions included AFC All-Star, NFC All-Star and NFL game jerseys. ICE HSI agents estimate the seized apparel would have retailed for approximately $41,000 if it had been genuine.
ICE HSI agents, accompanied by representatives from the NFL, targeted booths at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, site of Sunday's Pro Bowl, and at the International Market Place in Waikiki. Authorities advise no arrests have yet been made in connection with the operation, but the investigation is ongoing.
"People need to realize that the sale and purchase of counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime," said Marjorie Thompson, acting special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Honolulu. "Commercial piracy and product counterfeiting undermine the U.S. economy, rob Americans of jobs, stifle American innovation and promote other types of crime."
ICE HSI agents say consumers should follow a few simple tips to help ensure they are buying authentic NFL jerseys and clothing: Counterfeit goods have poor stitching around names and numbers, which is often particularly noticeable on the inside of the item. Incorrect spelling on sewn labels and counterfeit NFL logos, which should be holographic, are also indications of an illegal knock-off.
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE's HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. ICE HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.