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Operation Team Player tackles counterfeit sports merchandise

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, at 9:51 a.m.

Just in time for the Super Bowl, federal law enforcement officials joined with the National Football League on Thursday to announce a crackdown on counterfeit sports merchandise.

In an NFL news conference, officials proclaimed the success of what they dubbed Operation Team Player. The operation began in June and targeted international shipments of counterfeit merchandise as it entered the United States, where it was being sold through stores, flea markets and vendors.

Officials said that fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs were seized by agents from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.

With three days before Super Bowl XLVIII, teams have reported seizing more than 202,000 phony sports memorabilia items and other items worth more than $21.6 million. Officials report having made 50 arrests in relation to Operation Team Player.

"No good comes from counterfeiting American products, regardless of whether they are jerseys, airbags or pharmaceuticals," declared John Sandweg, acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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