WASHINGTON — Federal and local law enforcement authorities have seized $30 million in counterfeit apparel, shoes, handbags and other consumer products from two Massachusetts flea markets and arrested 42 people, making it the largest counterfeit bust in the Boston area’s history.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit coordinated with the Lawrence, Mass., Police Department in seizing 13 vehicles and three tractor trailers worth of counterfeit items within the Don Flea Market and the Lawrence Flea Market & Auction House on May 17.
A large amount of bogus designer apparel, handbags, shoes and sportswear was seized, violating several trademarks and brands, including Michael Kors, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Coach and Ugg Australia, officials said. Federal officials said the sale and trafficking of counterfeit merchandise and apparel in particular is a “multimillion-dollar criminal industry.”
“This is an effort to support local, legitimate businesses who have complained of these individuals selling bogus merchandise,” said Lawrence Interim Police Chief James Fitzpatrick. “In recent history, I believe this is probably the largest raid in Massachusetts involving counterfeit goods.”
Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge for HSI Boston, said, “Criminals who sell counterfeit products are a drain on our economy. They put a strain on Main Street by hurting legitimate businesses and taxpayers. Anyone who thinks counterfeiting is a victimless crime should realize the profits of these black-market sales are routinely diverted to support further criminal activity such as drug trafficking and money laundering.”