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$12M in fake goods seized in L.A. crackdown

August 31, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Millions of dollars worth of designer knockoffs were seized and dozens were arrested in a major counterfeit raid across Southern California.The raids over the last week were part of a nationwide crackdown on counterfeit goods. Dubbed "Operation Fire Sale," the mission targeted cities from Los Angeles to New York.

Authorities call Southern California "ground zero" for fake merchandise and pirated products. Federal and local law enforcement seized items such as fake designer clothing, handbags, sunglasses, DVDs, cigarettes, watches, jewelry and shoes.

The largest haul came from a warehouse in the Santee Alley shopping district in downtown Los Angeles.

More than $12 million of illegal items were seized, and 30 people have been arrested.

Officials said most of the counterfeit goods come from China. While federal authorities are working with the Chinese government to cut off the supply at the source, authorities say shoppers need to do their part as well.

"Consumers must also play a part. Next time you're tempted to save a few bucks by buying a product that you know is counterfeit or pirated, remember that you're a party to economic sabotage," said special agent Glaude Arnold, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The sale of counterfeit goods is a serious problem in the U.S., taking away jobs and tax revenue and promoting crime. Investigators said they've traced some of the money to offshore accounts that have been linked to terrorist activity.

While shoppers maybe looking for a bargain on designer brands, investigators said the counterfeits end up costing everyone in the end.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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