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January 21, 2016Baltimore, MD, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

Over 2,000 counterfeit CDs seized from Baltimore City music store

BALTIMORE – Special agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the investigative arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seized 2,053 counterfeit CDs today at Azteca Music in Baltimore City on January 20.

“It’s a common assumption that counterfeit items, like movies and CDs, are only a problem for trademark owners, senior executives and corporations, when the reality is that the general public and consumers are also substantially impacted,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson. “Furthermore, investigations into the importation or distribution of counterfeit goods often reveal links to transnational criminal organizations involved in a wide range of criminal activity that poses a threat to public safety and our economy.”

The seized items were packaged to appear genuine and were sold at the same price point as legitimate goods. According to experts, such high quality counterfeit items suggest they were likely made using commercial grade equipment. Experts from the RIAA accompanied HSI special agents as on-scene subject matter experts.

“We commend the special agents with the Homeland Security Investigations team and are grateful for their leadership to help prevent illegal music trafficking on the streets of Baltimore,” said Brad Buckles, RIAA’s Executive Vice President for Anti-Piracy. “This action demonstrates that this type of crime is no petty theft and causes significant damage to local economies through lost revenue and to music creators who are struggling to make a living. We hope this action sends a strong message to other illegal vendors that what they are doing will not be tolerated.”

The trafficking of counterfeit goods is the second largest illicit trade activity valued at roughly $250 billion. Industry reports cited by the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition claim businesses lose an estimated $600 to $700 billion annually due to counterfeiting. In 2014, between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and ICE there were over 28,000 seizures of counterfeit goods worth an estimated MSRP of over $1 billion.