HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Authorities seized thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit sports merchandise during a week-long multi-agency operation targeting counterfeit sporting goods in the Houston area, according to HSI.
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Homeland Security Investigations, the Houston Police Department, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized more than 6,593 items of counterfeit soccer merchandise with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of about $631,926 during the week of the Premier League preseason soccer match at NRG Park.
"Major sporting events routinely attract transnational criminal organizations and other bad actors involved in the illicit sale of counterfeit merchandise and tickets," HSI Special Agent Mark Dawson said. "HSI Houston is committed to working in conjunction with our partners from other law enforcement agencies and private industry to aggressively investigate trademark counterfeiting to protect consumers and ensure a level playing field for legitimate businesses."
"This operation is an example of the commitment CBP and its partners have in disrupting the flow of both illegitimate, counterfeit goods and the hundreds of thousands of dollars generated from their sales that fund criminal enterprises," CBP Director of Field Operations Jud Murdock said. "Counterfeit goods threaten America's innovation and the livelihoods of workers employed by the right's holder, which is why intellectual property rights remain a CBP priority."
"Public-private sector partnerships are the key to success at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center," IPR Center Director Jim Mancuso said. "By joining forces and working together, HSI, CBP, and the Premier League can better ensure soccer fans around the world spending their hard-earned money to support their favorite club only receive genuine, high-quality officially licensed merchandise in return."
Premier League preseason soccer match is part of a nationwide and year-round effort, Operation Team Player, developed by the IPR Center to crack down on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment merchandise.
Between February 2021 and February 2022, authorities said they seized more than 267,511 counterfeit sports-related items with an estimated MSRP of $97.8 million during Operation Team Player.
In the fiscal year 2021, HSI Houston said they seized more than 2 million counterfeit goods valued at approximately $23.8 million. Of the counterfeit items seized in the Houston area, approximately 51,000 were counterfeit apparel valued at approximately $7.2 million.
Anyone who suspects they have encountered counterfeit goods or merchandise are encouraged to report it to local law enforcement by calling the HSI tip-line at 1-866-DHS-2423 or submit an anonymous tip at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center's website.