Speaking at a National Football League (NFL) news conference on Friday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Deputy Director Kumar Kibble and NFL Vice President for Legal Affairs Anastasia Danias announced the record-breaking results of a nationwide enforcement operation involving multiple law enforcement partners targeting stores, flea markets and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear throughout the United States. The operation, dubbed “Operation Interception,” commenced Jan. 1, 2011.
Special agents from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operated in multiple teams with the NFL and various law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to identify stores and vendors selling counterfeit trademarked items. With two days left before Super Bowl XLV, these teams have seized 36,273 items of phony Super Bowl-related memorabilia along with other counterfeit items to date for a total take of about $3.56 million. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone, 10,430 items were seized with an estimated value of $554,280.
Fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs are among the counterfeit merchandise and clothing confiscated by teams comprised of ICE HSI, NFL, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other law enforcement agencies.
Furthering ICE HSI efforts to combat counterfeiting and piracy online, special agents seized 10 websites earlier this week that illegally streamed live sporting telecasts over the Internet, including NFL games. The websites were among the most popular on the Internet for illegally distributing copyrighted sporting events. It is estimated that each year, sports leagues and broadcasters lose millions of dollars from illegally distributing copyrighted, live sporting events over the Internet. Such piracy threatens the investment that broadcasters and digital media companies are willing to make to distribute live content. More information about this seizure is available by clicking here.