Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, the Houston Police Department (HPD), and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized more than 6,593 items of counterfeit soccer merchandise with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of approximately $631,926 during a week-long, multi-agency operation targeting counterfeit sporting goods in the Houston area.
The operation, which was conducted during the week leading up to a Premier League preseason soccer match on July 20 at NRG Park, is part of a nationwide effort called “Operation Team Player.” The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and the Premier League aided during the operation.
“This operation is an example of the commitment CBP and its partners have in disrupting the flow of both illegitimate, counterfeit goods and the hundreds of thousands of dollars generated from their sales that fund criminal enterprises,” said Jud Murdock, Houston CBP director of field operations. “Counterfeit goods threaten America’s innovation and the livelihoods of workers employed by the right’s holder, which is why intellectual property rights remain a CBP priority.”
“Public-private sector partnerships are the key to success at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center),” said Jim Mancuso, IPR Center director. “By joining forces and working together, HSI, CBP, and the Premier League can better ensure soccer fans around the world spending their hard earned money to support their favorite club only receive genuine, high quality officially licensed merchandise in return.”
HSI works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement through Operation Team Player, a year-round effort developed by the IPR Center to crack down on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment merchandise. Last year, between February 2021 and February 2022, authorities seized more than 267,511 counterfeit sports-related items with an estimated MSRP of $97.8 million during Operation Team Player.
In fiscal year 2021, HSI Houston seized more than 2 million counterfeit goods valued at approximately $23.8 million. Of the counterfeit items seized in the Houston area, approximately 51,000 were counterfeit apparel valued at approximately $7.2 million.