EL PASO, Texas — Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Sunday seized nearly 20,000 counterfeit items with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) worth of nearly $900,000 at the local Fox Plaza flea market.
The enforcement operation was part of the continuing efforts of HSI's Commercial Fraud Group, and the Southwest Border Financial Operations and Currency United Strike Force (FOCUS) to track down individuals who sell counterfeit and pirated products.
It took HSI special agents a few days to count the following seized items and identify the MSRP:
• 8,911 DVDs with an MSRP of: $122,210.72
• 10,669 CDs with an MSRP of: $128,454.76
• 1,728 items, including handbags, NFL merchandise and NIKE-brand sneakers with an MSRP of: $648,409.15
A total of 21,308 items were seized with an MSRP of $899,074.63.
The following Border Enforcement Task Force (BEST) members also participated in the operation: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission, and the El Paso Sheriff's Department. Trademark representatives were on site to authenticate merchandise. Representatives of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) also assisted.
"Counterfeiting is a significant problem that affects our economy, impacts American jobs, and puts the public's health and safety at risk," said Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge for HSI El Paso. "Consumers who buy pirated products may also be funding criminal organizations with their purchases."
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off our streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind such illicit activity.
Operations such as the one conducted at the Fox Plaza Flea Market are coordinated through the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 20 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.
To report IP theft or to learn more about the HSI-led IPR Center, visit IPRCenter.gov.