POSTED: Friday, April 20, 2012 - 7:02pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 9:59am
EL PASO — Federal agents seized nearly a $1 million in counterfeit products. Homeland Security said this is a big problem here in El Paso, as it is across the country. People are selling counterfeit items and it's hurting the local economy.
“It's unfortunate, people want products that have the look, have the name on it but don't want to pay the prices," said Dennis Ulrich with Homeland Security Investigations.
Agents seized nearly 9,000 counterfeit DVDs, more than 10,000 CDs and 17,000 other items, including handbags, sports jerseys and tennis shoes. Agents seized 21,000 items in all at the Fox Plaza flea market on Sunday.
"It has a definite impact on the economy,” said Ulrich. “These items are being sold at lesser values and it's not from reputable sales or reputable merchandise."
Business owners are glad Homeland Security is cracking down on these places.
"I think it's a good thing,” said business owner Fernando Pena. “I think those counterfeit items have been hurting us."
Fernando Pena owns two legitimate El Paso Pro Sports stores.
He said many customers leave his store and head to the flea markets.
"People come in and look at our stuff and they say, 'Well I can get it at the flea market for half of what you're charging.' I try to tell them that those are knock-offs but they say, 'They're cheaper' so they buy them anyway,” Pena said.
Pro Sports has been open for 25 years but the future is in doubt, because counterfeit sellers are ruining his business.
"I used to have wall-to-wall stuff for both stores and now we're breaking even... not even that. Last year, we lost money," Pena said.
Pena is glad that federal agents are stepping in.
"I'm grateful that they're acting on this counterfeit stuff. I'm very grateful," Pena said.
Federal agents have made no arrests so far after Sunday's raid. They'll destroy all of the counterfeit merchandise they seized.