DHS seizes $21.6 million in fake NFL merchandise, arrests 50 involved

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Ahead of the Super Bowl, federal officials announced a crackdown on counterfeit National Football League merchandise, revealing the seizure of more than $21.6 million in fake NFL merchandise, Thursday.

In an initiative called “Operation Team Player,” the feds targeted international shipments of counterfeit merchandise from abroad as it came into the United States, as well as warehouses, stores, online vendors, and street vendors selling counterfeit goods and tickets nationwide. The operation began in June.

“Our agents are committed to combating the criminal enterprises selling counterfeit products which undermine our economy, and take jobs away from Americans,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director John Sandweg said in a statement. “No good comes from counterfeiting American products regardless of whether they are jerseys, airbags or pharmaceuticals.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets, and other souvenirs are among the 202,000 items — worth more than $21.6 million — seized by officers from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Patrol CBP, Postal Inspection Service as well as state and local police departments.

In addition to the seizures, DHS also announced 50 arrests during the operation, and said that such enforcement actions will continue in conjunction with Super Bowl XLVIII through Feb. 7.

Law enforcement also shut down over 160 websites selling counterfeit goods.

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