LAWRENCE, Mass. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in coordination with the Lawrence Police Department, seized approximately three tractor trailers worth of counterfeit items between two flea markets with a retail value of approximately $30 million. The seizure marks the largest in HSI Boston's history.
In addition to the seized goods, 42 individuals were arrested and 13 vehicles were seized within the Don Flea Market and the Lawrence Flea Market & Auction House. The operation was a culmination of a federal investigation by HSI special agents, in coordination with the Lawrence Police Department.
"Criminals who sell counterfeit products are a drain on our economy. They put a strain on main street by hurting legitimate businesses and tax payers," said Special Agent in Charge Bruce Foucart, HSI Boston. "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."
"This is an effort to support local, legitimate businesses who have complained of these individuals selling bogus merchandise," said Interim Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick. "In recent history, I believe this is probably the largest raid in Massachusetts involving counterfeit goods."
The seized items include counterfeit designer clothing, handbags, shoes, sportswear and electronics and represented trademarks violations against more than a dozen different brands to include Michael Kors, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Coach, and Ugg Australia. Approximately 100 HSI, state and local law enforcement officers participated in the Saturday operation.
The seizures targeted the sale and trafficking of counterfeit merchandise and apparel, a multimillion dollar criminal industry. The trafficking of these items is a lucrative business for criminals and becomes even more profitable in markets involving popular designer items.
As part of the national effort to combat the growing problem on counterfeit goods, the HSI-led IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.
HSI encourages the public to report intellectual property rights violations and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by visiting www.ICE.gov/tips. For more information, visit http://www.ice.gov.