The Police Department last year increased enforcement against counterfeiters in New York, closing down 75 establishments, making 600 felony arrests, giving out 6,000 summonses, and seizing $18 million worth of fake goods, the Commissioner Raymond Kelly said yesterday.
Speaking at a summit on the problem of counterfeiting, he emphasized the connection between terrorism and the black market of counterfeit goods, as well as the hidden violent nature of the crime.
In two recent cases in Spain and Michigan, he said, groups have used the "low-risk, high-profit" crime to finance an attack on the Spanish commuter trains and to fund Hezbollah.
In 2005, a tourist in New York was unintentionally shot in the chest by someone trying to rob a counterfeit vendor. The department in July seized more than 100,000 counterfeit electrical goods, including extension cords and smoke detectors that were not safe, he said.
A deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, Sigal Mandelker, said the sale of counterfeit American products is estimated to be a $250 billion market.
The organizer of the summit, Harper's Bazaar, announced a new alliance and an information campaign to make the public aware of the dangers of buying counterfeit goods.
"The only way to stop the sale of counterfeit luxury goods is to educate consumers about the human price of buying fakes," a senior vice president at the magazine, Valerie Salembier, said.