Raids launched as part of a holiday-season “Operation Chimney Sweep” represent the largest seizure of counterfeit goods in Los Angeles history, the L.A. Anti-Piracy Task Force announced Wednesday.
Police arrested 10 and seized $4.06 million worth of counterfeit goods, using dozens of officers and investigators under the leadership of the task force.
Law enforcement officials did not disclose who was arrested or what charges would be filed.
Formed in February 2007 to crack down on the threat posed to the entertainment industry and others by counterfeit goods, the task force comprises law enforcement, business, government and entertainment industry figures. Among its members are Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley.
“People who make counterfeit goods are stealing, plain and simple," City Controller Wendy Greuel, chair of the task force, said in a statement. "It’s the same as picking someone’s pocket or shoplifting. Piracy is serious business, but we are determined to sweep it out of Los Angeles.”
Counterfeit goods cost Los Angeles County businesses $5.2 billion in lost revenue annually, plus $2 billion in losses for the retail sector, according to a report released by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
Facing pressure from the entertainment industry, the federal government has also ramped up its efforts to crack down on online piracy. As part of Operation in Our Sites, Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security officials have been seizing domain names and shutting down dozens of sites that offer illegal downloads for much of the past year.