WASHINGTON — With just three days left before the Super Bowl, federal authorities said Thursday they had made “record-breaking seizures” of $4.8 million in counterfeit National Football League and Super Bowl merchandise, and also shut down 307 Web sites selling bogus products or illegally streaming sporting events, over the past four months.
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During what was dubbed “Operation Fake Sweep,” an additional 22,570 items of counterfeit merchandise and clothing representing other sports leagues — including Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League — were confiscated by law enforcement, bringing the total seizures of the four-month operation to 65,262 counterfeit items, valued at $6.4 million. The operation began on Oct. 1.
Authorities said the sweep will continue this weekend at Super Bowl events and venues in Indianapolis and across the country.
Federal authorities teamed with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and targeted stores, flea markets and street vendors selling counterfeit game-related sportswear throughout the country. The counterfeit bust also focused on bogus imports and hundreds of Web sites selling fake and pirated items.
Included in the take of 42,692 items were fake jerseys, baseball caps, T-shirts, jackets and souvenirs. The total seizure value of phony Super Bowl-related memorabilia and other counterfeit items of $4.8 million was up from $3.72 million last year, officials said.
The nationwide operation was conducted by special agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the NFL and several local law enforcement agencies.
“While most people are focusing on whether the Patriots or Giants will win on Sunday, we at ICE have our sights on a different type of victory — defeating the international counterfeiting rings that illegally profit off of this event, the NFL, its players and sports fans,” said ICE Director John Morton, speaking at an NFL news conference in Indianapolis, home to Sunday’s game.
Anastasia Danias, vice president for legal affairs at the NFL, said the league is “committed to protecting fans and local businesses from being victimized by counterfeiters who are looking to profit illegally off of the public’s enthusiasm for the NFL.”
Authorities arrested Yonjo Quiroa, 28, of Comstock Park, Mich., on Wednesday and charged him with one count of criminal infringement of a copyright related to the operation from his home of nine of the 16 Web sites that illegally streamed sporting events over the Internet.