US feds uncover $20m in fake sports merchandise

Enforcement agents in the US have seized more than 260,000 counterfeit sports-related items in a year-long crackdown.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said the haul - worth an estimated $20m - included fake jerseys, hats, cell-phone accessories and thousands of other bogus items that were being prepared for sale to unsuspecting consumers.

Operation Team Player involved ICE, HSI and other groups including US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and local police, began at the conclusion of the 2016 NFL Super Bowl and targeted flea markets, retail outlets and street vendors selling counterfeit goods, reaching a peak this week ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl LI. To date it has resulted in 56 arrests with 50 convictions

"Criminal elements use major sporting events like the Super Bowl as an opportunity to sell substandard and counterfeit goods to the American public," commenting acting ICE director Thomas Homan, who took the role after President Trump fired his predecessor Daniel Ragsdale earlier this week.

"ICE special agents are committed to collaborating with industry and law-enforcement agencies to crackdown on counterfeiting that significantly impacts local economies and funnels money into organizations involved in additional illicit activities."

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