(MINNEAPOLIS, MN) – As preparations are underway for Super Bowl LII, US Customs and Border Protection has been tasked to provide additional security in and around US Bank stadium in Minneapolis.
Deliveries are scanned as they enter the premises and canine teams are patrolling the grounds. In the air, CBP’s Air and Marine Operations coordinates with other Federal, State, and local law enforcement to insure air security is provided before, during, and after the event.
Fans need to pay close attention to hot ticket items they find online if the prices seem too good to be true. While catching a fake with an obvious misspelling is easy, import specialists with CBP look at far more details to determine what’s the real deal.
“See, look at the stitching here,” said Helene Warren-Cutler, a senior import specialist with more than 30 years’ experience, from Philadelphia. “It’s all uneven, and you can see the leftover paper between the spaces on the backside of the lettering.”
Working at an express consignment center near the Minneapolis airport, she examines a knock-off Philadelphia Eagles jersey. The facility is just a stone’s throw from the site of this year’s Super Bowl.
She also noticed a shirt collar label that’s not even close to what is on officially licensed National Football League merchandise. Even the holographic NFL label on the paper tag doesn’t look quite right.
During the past year since the last Super Bowl, CBP has worked with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement-led Operation Team Player, a crackdown on the illegal importation of counterfeit sports apparel and merchandise. During a news conference just days before the big game in Minneapolis, officials announced that in the past year of the operation there were more than 170,000 counterfeit sports-related items worth an estimated $15.69 million, and joint investigative efforts led to 65 arrests with 24 convictions.
In addition, CBP has launched a public awareness campaign in airports around the country, displaying ads in passenger terminals with messages to warn travelers about the dangers of purchasing counterfeit goods.
“The number one way we target and look for counterfeit goods is looking at the country of origin; China, Hong Kong,” said Bob Redes, the acting assistant port director for trade operations at JFK Airport in New York City. “If it’s a lot going to an apartment or house, we’ll hold something like that to see what it is.”
VALUE IS A CLUE
“People might be paying five to ten dollars apiece for a counterfeit NFL championship ring,” said Philip Spataro, chief CBP officer at the Miami International Mail Facility. “The real rings have diamonds or rubies and gold, so you’re not going to see a real one that cheap.”