Santuck raid nets $2.04 million in suspected counterfeit merchandisePublished 2:30pm Saturday, September 7, 2013
By Kevin Taylor/The Wetumpka Herald
More than 100 agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confiscated more than $2 million of counterfeit merchandise Saturday morning at the Santuck Flea Market.
The seizure is believed to be the largest confiscation of counterfeit merchandise in the state in recent history, according to Bryan Cox, public affairs officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
As of noon Saturday at least 47 vendors of the hundreds, which sell various merchandise on the first Saturday of each month in the rural Elmore County community, had 60,000 suspected counterfeit merchandise confiscated.
“The merchandise ranges from hats to handbags and shoes to electronics,” Cox said.
Agents arrived on the scene around 8 a.m. with a tractor trailer filled with flat cardboard boxes.
By noon Saturday, forklifts were transferring boxes filled with merchandise to a central site to be logged in and loaded into the same trailer.
“Criminals who sell counterfeit products are economic parasites who harm legitimate businesses that pay taxes, create jobs and support our national economy,” said Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr. “Anyone who thinks counterfeiting is a victimless crime should realize the profits of these black-market sales are routinely diverted to support further criminal activity such as drug trafficking, money laundering and even potential terrorism.”
Cox said the investigation into counterfeit merchandise being sold at Santuck has been ongoing for several months by undercover agents.
While the seizures were ongoing, legitimate vendors and thousands of customers were walking the aisles.
“We want to reiterate that we only seized what was believed to be counterfeit merchandise from vendors,” Cox said. “That merchandise which was legit was left alone.”
As of 1 p.m. Saturday, Cox said the only arrests made by U.S. Homeland Security were of “illegals” who were selling counterfeit merchandise.
“And that was only a couple that I know of,” he said.