If It's Super Bowl Week, Counterfeit Cops Are Busy

Special agents from ICE teamed with industry, Customs and Border Protection, Atlanta police officers, and other partner agencies to identify flea markets, retail outlets, and street vendors selling counterfeit goods during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIII. They seized fake jerseys, hats, cell phone accessories, and thousands of other bogus items.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency announced Jan. 31 that enforcement efforts led by its Homeland Security Investigations component and U.S. Customs and Border Protection resulted in the seizure of nearly 285,000 counterfeit sports-related items worth an estimated $24.2 million, with related investigations leading to 28 arrests with 21 convictions. This happens every year -- authorities team up to seize counterfeit sports merchandise ahead of the Super Bowl.

This year's intellectual property enforcement statistics were part of Operation Team Player, an ongoing effort developed by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center to target the illegal importation and distribution of counterfeit sports merchandise. The agencies held a joint news conference in Atlanta with the NFL, CBP, the Atlanta Police Department, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is committed to targeting criminals attempting to disrupt the Super Bowl and other major sporting events by engaging in counterfeiting and additional illicit activities," said ICE Deputy Director Ronald D. Vitiello. "Intellectual property theft has very severe consequences, which include negatively impacting the U.S. economy, threatening the health and safety of American consumers, and funding criminal organizations involved in violent crimes."

Special agents from HSI teamed with industry, CBP, Atlanta police officers, and other partner agencies to identify flea markets, retail outlets, and street vendors selling counterfeit goods during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIII. They seized fake jerseys, hats, cell phone accessories, and thousands of other bogus items prepared to be sold to unsuspecting consumers.

"The NFL values its partnership with the IPR Center, ICE, HSI, CBP, and Atlanta law enforcement, whose joint anti-counterfeiting enforcement efforts protect consumers from predatory sellers who seek to illegally profit from our fans' enthusiasm for their team and the Super Bowl championship game," said NFL Vice President of Legal Affairs Dolores DiBella. "The NFL is committed to supporting law enforcement's anti-counterfeiting and consumer protection measures. The dedicated work of law enforcement is integral to any successful anti-counterfeiting operation, and we extend our appreciation and gratitude to every agent and officer engaged in Operation Team Player."

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