NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Investigators have confiscated more than $13.6 million worth of phony sports merchandise over the past five months and expect to seize more in New Orleans during Super Bowl week, a federal law-enforcement official said Thursday.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said authorities also have shut down more than 300 websites selling counterfeit goods as part of an enforcement effort dubbed “Operation Red Zone.”
The operation targeted international shipments of jerseys, hats and other souvenirs entering the U.S. for sale by stores, flea markets and street vendors.
More than 160,000 counterfeit items, mostly purporting to be official Super Bowl and other NFL merchandise, were seized during the operation. A total of 23 people have been arrested on related charges since September 2012.
“We attacked the counterfeiters at every point along the criminal supply chain,” Morton said during a press briefing in New Orleans.
Morton said agents also were in the city this week to crack down on the sale of counterfeit merchandise before Sunday’s Super Bowl between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
“This just takes good old-fashioned police work, people getting out on the streets,” he said.