Inside a Super Bowl counterfeit merchandise bust

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — A crackdown on counterfeit goods is part of law enforcement’s plan for every Super Bowl. This year, with a bigger host city, it’s a lot more work than usual.

Randall Hill knows what merchandise is legit. The former NFL player is now a Special Agent for United States Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI.

NewsNation joined HSI, Customs and Border Protection and the Los Angeles Police Department as officers targeted a pop-up street vendor.

Counterfeits often surface right after the Super Bowl starts.

“As soon as the teams are decided, that’s when some of these vendors start offering their products,” Hill said.

With the Super Bowl taking place in the Rams’ hometown of Los Angeles, the demand for fan gear is especially high.

In one operation, Intel brought NewsNation to the San Fernando Valley, where a small street stand was laden with counterfeit Super Bowl merchandise. Among the loot were counterfeit apparel featuring other popular franchises. Nearby, there was also a wagon of counterfeits.

At a press conference, the NFL and law enforcement highlighted the problem and the many ongoing operations like what we saw in the Valley.

“This year alone, we have seized over 267,000 items worth nearly $97.8 million,” said Steve Francis, HSI’s Executive Associate Director.

Agents said operations are like a mole, with more new stands sure to appear ahead of Sunday’s game.

In the San Fernando Valley case, approximately $10,000 worth of illegal items were taken away and the seller was notified; suppliers and the money trail are the most important targets.

“Well, we don’t know what he’s going to fund,” Hill said. “We don’t know if he funds violent street gangs, we don’t know if he funds international street gangs, we don’t know where it comes from…different countries, countries that interest United States”

The problem of counterfeiting is so widespread that authorities estimate confiscations likely yield less than 5% of the total.

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