While the All-Stars were on the field at Kauffman Stadium this week, law enforcement officers were raiding a Lenexa warehouse believed to be the distribution center for most of the counterfeit ball caps sold in the Kansas City area.
The haul from that one operation nearly doubled the amount of counterfeit merchandise seized over a two-week period that in the end was valued at more than $540,000, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
That agency, along with Customs and Border Protection and local police and sheriff’s departments, conducted the operation. It was targeted at stores, Internet sites and street vendors selling unauthorized jerseys, caps, T-shirts and other merchandise, as well as phony tickets.
More than 13,000 items were seized throughout the area, including in Platte Woods, Liberty, Shawnee and Merriam.
About 80 percent of them were purported to be licensed by Major League Baseball and the rest by other sports franchises.
The operation even involved helicopters to spot criminal activity and conduct surveillance, according to Shawn Neudauer, a Homeland Security spokesman. There were no arrests, pending examination of the items seized. Cases will be referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
“We’re not really as interested in the small fish as we are in stopping the supply chain,” Neudauer said, adding that operations like this are common at large sporting events, such as the Super Bowl and the World Series.
Federal officials say most counterfeit sports merchandise comes from outside the country, and most of that is from China.