The regionally well known and heavily attended Santuck Flea Market in Elmore County had visitors from the federal government Saturday morning as counterfeit goods worth a total manufacturer's suggested retail price of than $2.04 million were seized and a number of people were arrested.
The seized items included counterfeit designer clothing, handbags, shoes, sportswear and electronics… merchandise from 47 vendors offering fraudulent items for sale.
Homeland Security officers (HSI) seized the counterfeit merchandise which infringed upon the trademarks of more than 30 different brands to include Michael Kors, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Coach, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), and the National Football League (NFL).
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Removal Operations (ERO) officers also arrested two individuals for immigration-related violations.
The bust occurred around 8:00 a.m. as approximately 100 HSI, ICE, Alabama State Police and Elmore County Sheriffs officers participated in the operation, which followed a months-long federal investigation.
These seizures were part of Operation Team Player. Team Player is a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center)-led initiative that targets the sale and trafficking of counterfeit sports merchandise and apparel, a multi-million dollar criminal industry.
The trafficking of these items is a lucrative business for criminals and becomes more profitable in markets involving successful and popular teams. The culmination of the sports season, all-star games and the playoffs are events that especially stimulate the sale of counterfeit items in local communities around the country.
"Criminals who sell counterfeit products are economic parasites who harm legitimate businesses that pay taxes, create jobs and support our national economy," said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "Anyone who thinks counterfeiting is a victimless crime should realize the profits of these black-market sales are routinely diverted to support further criminal activity such as drug trafficking, money laundering and even potential terrorism."
Santuck Flea Market located at 7300 Central Plank Road in Wetumpka. The flea market itself and legitimate vendors on the premises remained open during the operation.
Counterfeiting and copyright infringement are federal crimes. First time offenders often get cease and desist letters, but repeat offenders could be prosecuted.
HSI encourages the public to report intellectual property rights violations and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by visiting www.ICE.gov/tips. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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