Super Bowl: Feds Seize $123M Worth of Fake Merchandise

The government prevented a number of fans from getting fake merchandise during Super Bowl weekend. It was recently announced the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized more than 176,000 counterfeit sports-related items, worth an estimated $123 million. The seizures were part of Operation Team Player, which is "an ongoing effort developed by the HSI-led Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Center to target the illegal importation and distribution of counterfeit sports merchandise."

"Every day, cargo containers containing billions of dollars’ worth of counterfeit goods enter the United States through its land, sea and air ports of entry," HSI-led IPR Center Director Steve Francis said in a press conference via the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement website. "This year's record-breaking 'Operation Team Player' results affirm HSI’s commitment to protecting American consumers, the economy, and legitimate business, by ensuring Super Bowl 54 is not compromised by transnational criminal networks exploiting fan enthusiasm for illicit profits. Sports fans from around the world, who’ve spent their hard-earned money to support their favorite NFL team, deserve to receive genuine, high-quality officially licensed merchandise in return."

Miami-Dade Police officers teamed up with HSI and CBP agents to seize counterfeit goods from flea markets, retail outlets and street vendors leading up to Super Bowl LIV. They obtained fake jewelry, hats and thousands of other fake items they were selling to fans.

"Operation Team Player remains one of the most important national initiatives for protecting sports fans from the sale of counterfeit products and counterfeit tickets," NFL Vice President of Legal Affairs, Dolores DiBella said. "The joint efforts of the NFL, the IPR Center, HSI, CBP, and Miami area law enforcement have helped ensure that Super Bowl LIV remains an authentic and outstanding experience for our fans."

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"The NFL is committed to supporting these anti-counterfeiting and consumer protection measures, and extends its gratitude for the year-round support of law enforcement partners who drove the success of Operation Team Player."

This was a huge bust by the feds compared to last year. During Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, the actions of Operation Team Player helped the feds seize $24.2 million of fake merchandise. This means there was a 400 percent increase of fake merchandise that was attempted to be sold in Miami this year.