NFL tackles fake merchandise near Super Bowl site

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Federal agencies have seized more than $19.5 million in fake NFL merchandise during "Operation Team Player" ahead of Super Bowl XLIX.

With three days left before Super Bowl XLIX, law enforcement teams have seized more than 326,147 items of phony sports memorabilia along with other counterfeit items.

The initiative targeted international shipments of counterfeit merchandise as it entered the U.S. and focused on warehouses, stores, flea markets and online and street vendors selling fake game-related sportswear and tickets throughout the nation.

The law enforcement action actually began right after Super Bowl XLVIII ended.

Teams of special agents and officers from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, postal inspection service and state and local police departments seized fake jerseys, ball caps, T-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs.

"It is most certainly not a victimless crime either. Whether it's the child in Southeast Asia working in deplorable conditions or local stores going out of business, intellectual property theft is a very real crime with very real victims," ICE Director Sarah Saldaña said.

Law enforcement officers have made 52 arrests in relation to Operation Team Player so far, with Super Bowl XLIX efforts continuing through Feb. 6.