JULY 12, 2012 - Officials seized more than a half-million dollars in counterfeit merchandise in a two-week operation leading up to the 2012 MLB All-Star Game in Kansas City
Photographer: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP Modified) - Authorities seized more than a half-million dollars in counterfeit merchandise in a two-week sting leading up to this year's MLB All-Star Game in the Kansas City area.
A warehouse in Lenexa, Kan., was closed during the sting. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, it was believed to be responsible for distributing the majority of all counterfeit caps sold in the Kansas City area.
Authorities have not revealed its name or exact location.
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ICE officials said Thursday that the joint operation, led by its Homeland Security Investigations unit, targeted Internet sellers, street vendors and stores offering fake, game-related sportswear.
The total haul was 13,023 phony items valued at more than $540,000.
Seizures took place in a variety of communities throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area including: Platte Woods, Mo.; Liberty, Mo.; Shawnee Kan.; Merriam, Kan.; and Lenexa, Kan.
The goods included including apparel, fake tickets and memorabilia. Nearly 20 percent were from other sports leagues, such as the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League.
"Selling counterfeit goods is stealing," said Gilbert Trill, assistant special agent in charge of HSI Kansas City. "Counterfeit goods steal U.S. jobs, create inferior and sometimes dangerous products, and support criminal organizations."
ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said no arrests have been made, but that doesn't mean charges won't be filed later.
"Essentially the way these operations typically work, items and goods seized after being identified as counterfeit go through a legal process to confirm that," he said.
If enough evidence exists that crimes have been committed, information would be turned over to the U.S. attorney's office for possible prosecution, Neudauer said.
He said the All-Star Game was the impetus for the operation, which was similar to others conducted in connection with such large sporting events.
Much of the seized merchandise will be destroyed, Neudauer said, though in the past, some clothing items also have been donated to children in Haiti and other places where U.S. trademarks aren't valid.
Copyright AP Modified, Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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