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The US has seized more than US$15m worth of counterfeit sports apparel and sports entertainment merchandise, with joint investigative efforts leading to 65 arrests with 24 convictions.

Led by Homeland Security Investigations and US Customs and Border Protection, 171,926 items were seized as a result of the crackdown.

The year-round effort was developed by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) under ‘Operation Team Player’.

“Intellectual property theft is a serious crime, and black-market organisations descend on the Super Bowl and other major sporting events to sell counterfeit goods and substandard merchandise to unsuspecting consumers,” said ICE deputy director Thomas Homan.

“ICE agents are committed to investigating the trafficking of counterfeit goods that wreak havoc on local economies, threaten the health and safety of the American public and fund criminal organisations engaged in other illegal activities.”

Special agents from HSI teamed with industry, CBP, FBI, Minneapolis police officers and other partner agencies to identify flea markets, retail outlets and street vendors selling counterfeit goods during the week leading up to Super Bowl LII. They seized fake jerseys, hats, cell-phone accessories and thousands of other bogus items prepared to be sold to unsuspecting consumers.

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By GlobalData