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Designer Ripoff Sting: 30 Arrested In Crackdown

Thirty people were arrested and millions of dollars in designer knockoffs and pirated products such as clothing, jewelry, DVDs, CDs and iPhones were seized in Los Angeles and Orange Counties as part of a nationwide crackdown, officials announced today.

The week-long operation included officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the Los Angeles, Torrance and Garden Grove police departments; and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

The searches — part of a nationwide effort dubbed Operation Fire Sale — resulted in the seizure of more than 47,000 items, ranging from counterfeit watches and wallets to athletic shoes and workout wear, according to ICE.

Authorities estimated the collective value of the merchandise seized during the operation to be more than $12 million, based upon the suggested retail price if the items had been legitimate.

The largest cache of counterfeits, estimated to be worth nearly $9.8 million, was confiscated during a search Thursday by Los Angeles Police Department officers at a warehouse in Santee Alley near downtown Los Angeles, according to ICE.

The seized knockoffs represent more than 30 designer brands, including Burberry, Hermes, Chanel, Cartier, Oakley, Dooney and Bourke, Nike, Ray Ban and Kate Spade.

Investigators also recovered equipment used for manufacturing counterfeit apparel, including heat transfer and silk-screening machines.

In a related enforcement action in Orange County, ICE agents and Garden Grove police detectives executed a search warrant at a business called iProducts in Garden Grove, where they seized four counterfeit iPhones and dozens of counterfeit phone covers that included Louis Vuitton knockoffs.

The company’s owner, David Nguyen, 26, was one of 30 vendors arrested during the operation, and the suspects could face state criminal charges for possessing and selling counterfeit goods, officials said.

According to ICE, they could face federal charges as well.“

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