Federal agents raided the Patapsco Flea Market in Baltimore Sunday as part of an investigation into counterfeit goods and pirated music at one of the largest flea markets on the East Coast.
ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents are executing a federal search warrant at the Patapsco Flea Market as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. This enforcement action is based on specific information developed during a two and a half year long investigation involving violations of intellectual property rights law, said ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas. HSI special agents, with assistance from our law enforcement and industry partners, are seizing what is believed to be counterfeit, pirated and unlicensed merchandise that was being sold at the flea market. In order not to compromise this ongoing enforcement action, no additional information can be disclosed at this time.
A special agent with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said counterfeit items such as purses, sneakers, luxury good and sunglasses were confiscated.
The flea market, which bills itself as one of the largest on the East Coast, could not be reached for comment. Patapsco Flea Market is located at 1400 West Patapsco Ave. in Baltimore and operates every Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the flea market's website.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the department that ICE falls under, could not be reached to determine what sparked the investigation or if any flea market employees were arrested in the raid.
William Winter, the ICE special agent, told Baltimore's CBS affiliate that counterfeit goods undermine the sales of the companies they are knocking off.
It's a huge issue. It's a multi-billion dollar industry, and it impacts the U.S. in many ways, Winter said.
Patapsco Flea Market vendor Brandon Long described the raid as fast moving.
They hit the doors. They bum rushed the doors -- say about 10 agents to each door- and they just took everything, Long said.
More details on the Patapsco Flea Market raid are expected to be revealed today in court papers, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Sunday's raid went down a week after ICE seized $900,000 in counterfeit merchandise from the Fox Plaza flea market in El Paso, Tex.
Homeland Security special agents confiscated 8,911 counterfeit DVDs worth $122,210; 10,699 counterfeit CDs worth $128,000; and 1,728 counterfeit items, including handbags, NFL merchandise and Nike sneakeras worth $648,000.
Counterfeiting is a significant problem that affects our economy, impacts American jobs, and puts the public's health and safety at risk, said Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in El Paso. Consumers who buy pirated products may also be funding criminal organizations with their purchases.