NASHVILLE, Tenn. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in coordination with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department seized thousands of counterfeit items worth a total manufacturer’s suggested retail price of more than $1.8 million from Legends Clothing Store on Bell Road Tuesday.
The seized items include counterfeit designer clothing and handbags bearing the trademarks of Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Nike and Ralph Lauren. Investigators also seized counterfeit National Football League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball sportswear.
"Criminals who sell counterfeit products are economic parasites who harm legitimate businesses that pay taxes, create jobs and support our national economy," said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "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, money laundering and even potential terrorism."
Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility including Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
In addition to seizing counterfeit goods from the premises, HSI and Nashville Police also seized approximately $18,000 in proceeds from the sale of counterfeit goods from a bank account affiliated with the store.
These seizures were part of Operation Team Player. Team Player is a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center)-led initiative that targets the sale and trafficking of counterfeit sports merchandise and apparel, a multimillion dollar criminal industry. The trafficking of these items is a lucrative business for criminals and becomes more profitable in markets involving successful and popular teams. The culmination of the sports season, all-star games and playoffs are events that especially stimulate the sale of counterfeit items in local communities around the country.
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 www.ice.gov.