L.A. antipiracy raid nets $4 million in counterfeit goods
The boot came down on bootleggers this week in what Los Angeles authorities described as the largest antipiracy raid in L.A.'s history.
The Los Angeles Police Department made 10 arrests and seized $4.06 million worth of counterfeit goods, from music CDs and DVDs of just-released movies, including titles of "Tron" and "The Tourist,'' as well as handbags, jerseys, sunglasses and other knock-off goods.
The raids, which began last month and ended on Monday, were led by the city's antipiracy task force and included dozens of officers from the LAPD and investigators from private industries.
Most of the merchandise was seized from vendors and flea markets downtown, including downtown's Santee Alley, long a favorite spot for counterfeiters.
"People who make counterfeit goods are stealing, plain and simple'' said City Controller Wendy Greuel at a press conference announcing the results of Operation Chimney Sweep. "This should serve as a wake-up call, not only to criminals that produce and sell these goods, but to all the holiday shoppers out there."
Authorities said criminal gangs were behind most of the piracy activity. "It is important to remember, while you may feel you are getting a bargain, there are victims involved, and the funds raised are used for criminal enterprise,'' LAPD Deputy Chief David Doan said.
The raids marked the latest crackdown by LAPD's antipiracy team, which has served 181 warrants, made 498 arrests and seized $93.8 million worth of illegal goods since its inception in 2004.
A study by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation estimated that counterfeit goods cost local businesses $5.2 billion in lost revenue annually and $4.4 billion in lost wages each year.
-- Richard Verrier