As Super Bowl XLVII is about to commence another Super Bowl game was brought to light today at a National Football League (NFL) news conference with ICE Director John Morton and NFL Vice President for Legal Affairs Anastasia Danias as they announced the record-breaking results of a nationwide enforcement operation. In an initiative, dubbed ‘Operation Red Zone,’ teams of special agents and officers from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and state and local police departments around the country formed a partnership with the NFL and other major sports leagues. The mission, which commenced on Sept. 1, 2012, was to target 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. They worked to identify illegal shipments imported into the U.S., as well as stores and vendors selling counterfeit trademarked items. At the news conference today it was announced that these teams have seized more than 160,000 items of counterfeit Super Bowl related memorabilia along with other counterfeit items that are estimated to be worth more than $13.6 million.
It was further stated that in September 2012 agents in Boston, executed a search warned for residence in Warwick, Rhode Island, where they 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. And in November 2012 HSI special agents in Indianapolis responded to a call from Indiana State Fairgrounds security that they suspected that the individual on the fairgrounds was selling counterfeit goods. Arriving at the festival, the special agents 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 and 313 websites have been seized during Operation Red Zone investigations, as part of Operation In Our Sites, a long term law enforcement initiative targeting counterfeiting and piracy on the Internet.
Operation Red Zone will continue this weekend at the Super Bowl, throughout the New Orleans-area and around the nation. The operation is scheduled to continue through Feb. 6, 2013.
Operation Red Zone Video by Charles Reed/ U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), seize more than $13.6 million in fake NFL merchandise during ‘Operation Red Zone.’