The NFL, in coordination with federal officials have seized more than $13 million in unlicensed jerseys, Super Bowl memorabilia and other items since September 1. The initiative, dubbed ‘Operation Red Zone,’ targeted international shipments of counterfeit merchandise as it entered the United States. Authorities targeted warehouses, stores, flea markets, online vendors and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear and tickets throughout the country.
More than 160,000 items of phony Super Bowl-related memorabilia along with other counterfeit items for a total take of more than $13.6 million. Due to the increased activity of counterfeiting operations around the world, this year the operation began Sept. 1, 2012, and will continue through Feb. 6, 2013.
In September, HSI Boston – assisted by HSI Providence – executed a search warrant at a residence in Warwick, R.I. Homeland Security Investigations seized 226 boxes of counterfeit goods containing 4,016 sports jerseys with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $724,340 and approximately $477,000 worth of additional counterfeit goods, as well as $130,057 in U.S. currency and checks. The owner of the home was subsequently arrested and is currently facing federal charges of trafficking in counterfeit goods and smuggling.
In November, HSI Indianapolis special agents responded to a call from Indiana State Fairgrounds Security that an individual at the Indianapolis International Fest was selling items suspected to be counterfeit. Upon arriving at the festival, the special agents were able to verify the goods to be counterfeit and seized 1,319 counterfeit sports ball caps from the individual with an MSRP of $30,095 and approximately $7,600 worth of additional counterfeit goods. HSI arrested the man for illegally trafficking in counterfeit merchandise.
Twenty-one other individuals were arrested in partnership with state and local law enforcement
agencies on state charges at locations around the country.
Furthering HSI’s efforts to combat the international counterfeiting supply chain and piracy online, special agents seized a total of 313 websites identified to be selling counterfeit merchandise.
HSI has continued to work closely with PayPal to identify bank accounts being used to facilitate the transfer of money to these illegal operations. To date, PayPal and HSI have identified and seized more than $66,000 in assets in these accounts.
“PayPal and eBay Inc. pride ourselves in going above and beyond in the fight against the illegal online trafficking of counterfeit goods by partnering with law enforcement and rights owners globally, and as part of providing safe and trusted payments and commerce platforms,” said Tod Cohen, eBay’s vice president and deputy general counsel of government relations.
Operation Red Zone continues
Operation Red Zone will continue this weekend at the Super Bowl, throughout the New Orleans-area and around the nation.