HSI Houston, HPD, CBP seize more than $630K in counterfeit sports merchandise in week leading up to Premier League soccer match

By U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Originally posted on

HOUSTON – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston, the Houston Police Department (HPD) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized more than 6,593 items of counterfeit soccer merchandise with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of approximately $631,926 during a week-long multi-agency operation targeting counterfeit sporting goods in the Houston area.

The operation, which was conducted during the week leading up a Premier League preseason soccer match July 20 at NRG Park, is part of a nationwide effort called “Operation Team Player”. The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and the Premier League aided during the operation.

“Major sporting events routinely attract transnational criminal organizations and other bad actors involved in the illicit sale of counterfeit merchandise and tickets,” said Mark Dawson, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. “HSI Houston is committed to work in conjunction with our partners from other law enforcement agencies and private industry to aggressively investigate trademark counterfeiting to protect consumers and ensure a level playing field for legitimate businesses.”

“This operation is an example of the commitment CBP, and its partners have in disrupting the flow of both illegitimate, counterfeit goods and the hundreds of thousands of dollars generated from their sales that fund criminal enterprises,” said Jud Murdock, Houston CBP director of field operations. “Counterfeit goods threaten America’s innovation and the livelihoods of workers employed by the right’s holder, which is why intellectual property rights remain a CBP priority.”

“Public-private sector partnerships are the key to success at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center),” said Jim Mancuso, IPR Center director. “By joining forces and working together, HSI, CBP, and the Premier League can better ensure soccer fans around the world spending their hard-earned money to support their favorite club only receive genuine, high-quality officially licensed merchandise in return.”

HSI works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement through Operation Team Player, a year-round effort developed by the IPR Center to crack down on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and entertainment merchandise. Last year, between February 2021 and February 2022, authorities seized more than 267,511 counterfeit sports-related items with an estimated MSRP of $97.8 million during Operation Team Player.

In fiscal year 2021, HSI Houston seized more than 2 million counterfeit goods valued at approximately $23.8 million. Of the counterfeit items seized in the Houston area, approximately 51,000 were counterfeit apparel valued at approximately $7.2 million.

Members of the public who suspect they have encountered counterfeit goods or merchandise are encouraged to report it to local law enforcement or by calling the HSI tip-line at 1-866-DHS-2423. The public may also visit IPRCenter.gov and click on “Report IP Theft” to submit a tip online anonymously.

For more news and information on HSI Houston’s efforts to combat the illegal importation and sale of counterfeit goods follow us on Twitter @HSIHouston.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 86 overseas locations in 55 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.