In 2011, the fight against IP Crimes was taken to a new level. So many law enforcement agencies focused their efforts to go after the trademark counterfeiters and pirates. Intellectual Property crimes have gained the attention of our government and many others, who now see the clear links between these crimes and terrorist funding, organized crime and gangs.
In fact, in 2011 there were more documented gang related cases than any other previous year. Gang members becoming involved in counterfeiting is actually becoming a norm. What’s crazy is the fact that so many different gangs have jumped on the counterfeiting band wagon. We have seen so many different gangs, from White Fence, MS 13, Hoover Crips, 18th Street, Los Carnales, Skyline Pirus, Compton Varrio 155, Florencia 13 and so many others. These guys are all smart and realize the money they can make from selling counterfeit merchandise.
We can’t forget that organizations like Hezbollah and their supporters are also engaging in the sales and distribution of counterfeit goods to raise money for their organization. Groups like this view the United States as their “ATM” machine. They withdraw the money and take it home. We all have to remember what the proceeds from counterfeit crimes are possibly being used for.
Intellectual property crimes are continuing to grow in the real world and are really exploding on the internet. Internet counterfeiters think they can hide behind the world of the web. Well at times, this may be true, but i can tell you that law enforcement and many brand owners are also taking the fight to them and disrupting their operations.
The fight against counterfeiting and piracy is just like the war on drugs and will never be stamped out. However, the more that the public is educated on the true effects of counterfeiting and how it is truly hurting our economy, the better chance we have to cause the public to think twice about buying counterfeit goods.
It’s my belief that if the consumer truly understood the “big picture” about counterfeiting and piracy, they would not support counterfeiters and would not purchase counterfeit goods. Most consumers feel they are just getting a good deal and no one is getting hurt. Well, that is not the case. So many people are the victims of counterfeiting.
We can not forget that trademark counterfeiting and piracy have been linked to child labor, human trafficking, murder, extortion, money laundering, narcotics importation, organized retail crime, terrorist funding and many other serious crimes. Let’s continue the fight against fakes in 2012. Many thanks to everyone in the law enforcement community that understand the importance of Protecting the Rights of Creative Minds!
By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants