Valley authorities seize $500K in counterfeit goods

7:55 PM, May 29, 2012   |    comments
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An authentic version of this Nike NFL jersey is not available for sale in the U.S.

SACRAMENTO, CA - Valley authorities have broken up a major crime ring dealing in counterfeit sports apparel and luxury fashion accessories imported from China, News10 has learned.

The Sacramento Valley High Tech Crimes Task Force, operating under a federal grant targeting intellectual property crimes, raided a home in an upscale north Stockton neighborhood May 21.

Task force members said the home belongs to a key player in the counterfeit ring.  News10 is not naming the man because he hasn't been formally charged with a crime.

On Tuesday, task force members showed off some of the $500,000 worth of counterfeit products seized in the raid at the Stockton home and several other locations.

Sacramento County sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos said the products seized represent just a fraction of the total amount of counterfeit goods that had been sold by the organization.

Ramos said the counterfeit ring kept a lean inventory, importing only enough products that it could sell quickly to avoid excess expense and risk.

"This is a piece of a much larger puzzle," Ramos said.

An FBI agent who asked not to be identified because he works undercover, pointed out obvious flaws in some of the products.

A handbag bearing a Louis Vuitton label had a malfunctioning zipper, while the stitching in a pair of knockoff Air Jordan athletic shoes looked like it had been done by hand.

The agent displayed a counterfeit version of a new Nike NFL jersey that's not even available for sale yet in the United States.

The label on the jersey said it was licensed by the "Mational Football League."

"There is still a significant segment of the population that doesn't care about that," Ramos said.  "And that allows the operations to continue to grow."

Ramos said one man involved in the counterfeit ring with a prior felony conviction was arrested for possessing multiple firearms and body armor.

No charges relating to the counterfeit operation have been filed and the search warrants remain under seal.

by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net

News10/KXTV

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