Federal agents seize counterfeit merchandise from Phoenix, Tucson swap meets

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PHOENIX -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized counterfeit merchandise from swap meets in Phoenix and Tucson during a weeklong nationwide operation.

During "Operation Holiday Hoax," which ran Dec. 8-13, local and federal agents seized more than $26 million in counterfeit merchandise sold at swap meets, flea markets and small stores nationwide.

ICE agents seized $8,510 worth of NFL and NBA jerseys and jackets from Santa Monica Gear, a business operating from two swap meet locations in Phoenix.

In Tucson, ICE agents seized counterfeit clothing, shoes and jewelry with a value of $788,275 from 20 vendors at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet. Seizures included fake Ed Hardy clothing and baseball hats, Hollister International clothes, Nike sneakers and Coach jewelry.

Items seized nationwide, in Puerto Rico and in Mexico included counterfeit Christmas ornaments, toys, DVDs, CDs, clothing, footwear, handbags, sports clothing, perfume, stationery, cosmetics, hygiene products, electronics, phones and pharmaceuticals. Early estimates of the seized products were more than $26 million.

Seven people were arrested and charged in New York and Texas.

"Operation 'Holiday Hoax' struck the counterfeiters and counterfeit vendors just when their inventories were at their peak," said John Morton, Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary for ICE. "This is the season these criminals lure in unwitting holiday shoppers and sell them substandard and sometimes dangerous goods."