By  on August 24, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Authorities seized $12 million in counterfeit jewelry, handbags, wallets, watches, CDs and DVDs and arrested five vendors during a raid here Wednesday afternoon in the downtown garment district's Santee Alley shopping bazaar.

The antipiracy task force of the Los Angeles Police Department led the raid on the crowded quarter-mile stretch, where stores and vendors offer an array of merchandise to bargain hunters. Fashion goods comprised about 85 percent of the confiscated items, including counterfeit Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dooney & Bourke bags. There also were fake Rolex watches and Tiffany bracelets, said Detective Rick Ishitani of the task force.

Items were seized from more than 20 stalls on four blocks, each containing about 100 to 200 pieces.

"There were still shoppers from places like Houston, who were looking for the bags," Ishitani said.

Counterfeit goods — both made in China and exported and sold in China — are a major problem in fashion, but it is a problem that is affecting all industrial sectors, from electronics to pharmaceuticals. Luxury and fashion brands have become more aggressive in recent years in battling counterfeits.

The raid coincided with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's first Counterfeiting and Piracy Awareness Week, a series of events taking place throughout the city to educate business owners about intellectual property rights protection.

The chamber implemented a global, multimillion-dollar initiative in 2004 in which industry executives, law enforcement and government officials and private investigators joined in efforts to thwart counterfeiting.

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