U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New Orleans seized 384 counterfeit items valued at an estimated $375,925, during an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) operation April 1-4.
The IPR operation was conducted during the Final Four NCAA championships held in New Orleans this weekend. Special agents with HSI New Orleans teamed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation (LBI) to identify flea markets, retail outlets and street vendors selling counterfeit goods during the weekend games. They seized fake jerseys, hats, cell-phone accessories, and hundreds of other bogus items prepared to be sold to unsuspecting consumers.
“HSI New Orleans and all of our public and private sector partners are committed to ensuring that fans receive only genuine, high-quality officially licensed merchandise,” said Jeb Bison, HSI New Orleans Deputy Special Agent in Charge. “Large-scale events like the NCAA championships provide opportunities for transnational criminal organizations to profit from illicit activity. Our goal is to disrupt this activity and protect consumers.”
HSI special agents investigate and enforce violations of federal trademark, copyright, and patent laws. HSI’s commercial fraud program focuses on commercial imports based on false statements and deceptive business practices. The production and trafficking of counterfeit goods poses a significant risk and safety threats to consumers. It also impacts the economic growth of legitimate businesses and consumers through lost revenue, downtime, and replacement costs.
“My office and I will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the citizens of Louisiana and those who visit our great state,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. “I remain committed to making Louisiana the best place to live, work, worship, and raise a family.”
“While tens of thousands flocked to New Orleans for the NCAA tournament, this inevitably also brought sellers of counterfeit merchandise, said CBP Acting Assistant Director Field Operations Miguel Garza. “These items are typically produced overseas in inhumane conditions, and provide profits to criminal organizations. CBP is proud to work alongside our federal and state partners to enforce our trade laws. Counterfeits are not a victimless crime.”
The HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center is one of the key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. HSI agents with the IPR Center work alongside other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners across the country to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft.
The IPR Center, working collaboratively with its public and private sector partners, stands at the forefront of the U.S. government’s response to combatting global intellectual property theft and enforcing intellectual properties rights violations. The IPR Center was established to combat global intellectual property theft – and, accordingly, has a significant role policing the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods on websites, social media, and the dark web.