IPR Center Seizes $97.8M in Counterfeit Sports Merchandise during Annual Operation Team Player

LOS ANGELES — Today, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), the National Football League (NFL), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Los Angeles Sheriff Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced that more than 267, 511 counterfeit sports-related items, worth an estimated $97.8 million, were seized during Operation Team Player.

Operation Team Player is a year-round effort developed by the IPR Center to crackdown on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment merchandise.

Special agents from HSI teamed with industry, CBP, Los Angeles metropolitan area police officers, and other public-private sector partners to identify online marketplaces, flea markets, retail outlets, pop-up shops and street vendors selling counterfeit goods during the weeks leading up to Super Bowl LVI (56). They seized items such as fake jerseys, hats, rings, t-shirts, jackets, tickets, souvenirs, and thousands of other sports related memorabilia prepared to be marketed as legitimate, authentic items.

Last year, IPR announced that enforcement actions related to Operation Team Player resulted in the $45 million worth of counterfeit sports-merchandise. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, much of the illegal activity moved online, pushing HSI’s efforts more towards commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods.

Throughout the year, the IPR Center leads coordinated efforts with major sporting leagues to target contraband that impacts the economy, enables additional criminality, and poses potential health and safety hazards to the public.

In fiscal year 2021, the IPR Center and its partners assisted in the seizure of 2,651 shipments of counterfeit goods worth approximately $822 million by policing the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods on websites, social media, retail stores and pop-up shops.