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L.A. Anti-piracy Bust Largest in City’s History

22 Dec, 2010 By: Chris Tribbey

In the largest raid on counterfeit goods in Los Angeles’ history the city’s Anti-Piracy Task Force has made 10 arrests and seized more than $4 million worth of counterfeit goods — including a sizeable number of DVDs — this holiday season, L.A. city controller Wendy Greuel said Dec. 22.

“People who make counterfeit goods are stealing, plain and simple. It’s the same as picking someone’s pocket or shoplifting,” Greuel said in a statement. “We lose more than 100,000 jobs and billions of dollars to our economy each year because of these crimes.

“This should serve as a wake-up call, not only to the criminals that produce and sell these illegal goods, but to all of the holiday shoppers out there,” she said. “Piracy is serious business, but we are determined to sweep it out of Los Angeles.”

A spokesman for Greuel said police were still tallying the counterfeit goods, and couldn’t immediately disclose the number of pirated films involved.

“This operation was a long-term effort that exemplifies cops working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies,” said David Doan, deputy chief with the Los Angeles Police Department. “It is the culmination of a long-term partnership … which significantly reduced the operations of a number of thieves, thugs and hoodlums, living and operating in the shadows here in Los Angeles and abroad.”

The series of raids — dubbed Operation Chimney Sweep — involved dozens of LAPD officers and private investigators, and resulted in the seizure of $4.06 million worth of illegal movies, music and apparel.

“Counterfeiters are often involved in other, more dangerous illicit activities,” said City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. “Few realize that the money a consumer pays for a counterfeit product may very well be financing even more serious criminal activities, like gang crime.”

Since 2004, L.A. anti-piracy law enforcement has made nearly 500 arrests, served more than 700 warrants and seized more than $305 million worth of counterfeit goods. The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation pegs the amount L.A. county businesses lose to piracy annually at $5.2 billion.

“The film industry is one of America’s greatest exports that drives economic growth, provides good jobs, and generates vital revenue for governments and communities at all levels, especially in Los Angeles,” said Larry Hahn, director of domestic content protection for the Motion Picture Association of America. “We are grateful to the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD for their leadership and sustained commitment to curbing piracy in Los Angeles, the film and television capitol of the world.”

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