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Feds Seize $26 Million of 'Knockoff' Items in Major Counterfeit Bust

Federal authorities announced Monday they seized $26 million worth of "knockoff" DVDs, CDs, clothing, electronics, cosmetics, phones, holiday ornaments and pharmaceuticals in a carefully coordinated counterfeit bust.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it recovered more than 708,250 counterfeited items in 41 cities and 26 states in what is being dubbed "Operation Holiday Hoax."

Seven people were arrested and charged in New York and Texas, authorities said.

During the operation, which ran from Dec. 8 to 13, ICE agents worked in conjunction with local law enforcement and the Mexican government to nab small businesses, flea markets, shippers and various vendors involved in the distribution of knockoff products.

Mexico reportedly recovered more than 225 tons of counterfeit items in separate raids.

"Operation 'Holiday Hoax" struck the counterfeiters and counterfeit vendors just when their inventories were at their peak," John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a press release Monday.

"This is the season these criminals lure in unwitting holiday shoppers and sell them substandard and sometimes dangerous goods," he said. "Besides putting a dent in the criminals' holiday profits, we are getting out the word to consumers that counterfeits are everywhere."

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