Officers raid Ocean City businesses

Looking for counterfeit goods, official says

August 17, 2011|By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun

Officers raided multiple businesses Wednesday in Ocean City that are suspected of trafficking counterfeit goods, a federal official said.

The Homeland Security Investigations division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was the lead agency handling the execution of search and seizure warrants for "counterfeit goods or services," said Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for ICE, in a statement.

This case is not related to immigration issues, he said.

No one was arrested during the searches for fake designer goods and at least some of the businesses searched were near the boardwalk, said Special Agent Rich Wolf, a spokesman for the FBI's Baltimore field office.

The FBI supplied 14 officers for the raid, Wolf said.

In addition to the FBI and HSI, the Ocean City Police Department, Maryland State Police, Worcester County Sheriff's Office, Maryland Natural Resources Police and U.S. Customs and Border Protection were involved in the searches, said Feinstein.

The investigation is ongoing and little information is publicly available at this point, said Mike Levy, a spokesman for the Ocean City Police Department.

According to lawsuits filed last summer in Baltimore federal court by Coach Inc., the luxury handbag maker, over two days in June 2010 an investigator for the company entered 13 Ocean City stores overlooking the beach and bought counterfeit bags, wallets and other items for prices ranging from $20 to $75.

In some cases, the investigator said, the shops had dozens of imitation Coach products for sale. And, in at least one instance, a shop employee admitted to the undercover investigator that the items were fake, according to the lawsuits.

Baltimore Sun reporter Gus G. Sentementes contributed to this article.

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