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Raids seize $2.7 million in counterfeit goods from downtown L.A.'s shopping district

December 23, 2008 |  2:50 pm

Many retailers have been having a tough time this season because of the sagging economy. But for  stores in downtown L.A.'s shopping district, it got tougher last weekend as law enforcement agencies raided the area and arrested 28 people selling or making knockoff goods sold there.

The three-day raids last Thursday to Saturday resulted in officials seizing $2.7 million worth of counterfeit goods brandished with familiar names: Air Jordan, Ed Hardy, Coach, Lacoste, Abercrombie and Fitch, Gucci, Sony and many others. Officials held a news conference today to display the merchandise at the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters.

“As the economic times become tougher, the counterfeits become more and more prevalent,” said LAPD Commander David Doan. “That continues to be a negative reign on businesses whose property is being counterfeited. We need to get the message out to make sure you buy smart and make sure you’re helping our economy and not helping the criminals.”

Since the formation of the anti-piracy task force in 2004, the LAPD and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department have seized more than 1.7 million bootlegged goods from across the county -- with a total street value of more than $49 million -- and have made more than 300 arrests, according to statistics compiled by the group.

The agencies raided the Santee Alley shopping area last year, pulling in about $14 million in counterfeit merchandise, Doan said. Although the number of goods confiscated this year is down a bit, officials say they are not concerned.

“This year’s raid was the second-largest in Los Angeles County history," Doan said. "The largest raid in Los Angeles history was last year’s raid, and I’d like to think the numbers are down because we’re doing a better job of law enforcement."

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles and Mark Medina