When President George W. Bush created the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) following the 9/11 attacks, he assured Americans that the new government agency was focusing on terrorism.
“Our nation has been put on notice: We are not immune from attack,” said President Bush. “We will take defensive measures against terrorism to protect Americans.”
However, these days the DHS is targeting Americans who sell counterfeit clothing, CDs and DVDs at flea markets.
DHS agents and local police arrested 46 people at two flea markets in Lawrence, Mass., last Saturday, reports WCVB (video below).
The raids, which did not involve terrorism, took place at the Don Flea Market and Lawrence Flea Market and Auction House.
"Today marked the culmination of a long-term investigation. The operation targeted counterfeit merchandise and violations of intellectual property rights," said a DHS spokesman.
“This is an effort to support local, legitimate businesses who have complained of these individuals selling bogus merchandise,” Interim Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick told The Eagle Tribune.
“Over the course of several months, we targeted individual selling counterfeit goods and counterfeit intellectual property. Our investigation culminated with the arrests of over 40 people involved in selling these illicit items,” added Chief Fitzpatrick. “In recent history, I believe this is probably the largest raid in Massachusetts involving counterfeit goods.”
Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokeswoman for the Essex County District Attorney, stated, “The Department of Homeland Security was the lead with Lawrence Police Department. We were part of the investigation and we will prosecute.”
One Lawrence resident told WCVB he felt sorry for the flea market dealers who were arrested, while a female resident said there should be more law enforcement dollars spent on these types of crimes because she once bought a purse at a flea market that fell apart.