Law enforcementSan Antonio’s "Piracy King" pleads guilty

Published 29 August 2011

Police in San Antonio recently put an end to the “Piracy King’s” reign; last Thursday, Ernest Christopher Smith, nicknamed the piracy king by local law enforcement officials because of the large number of fake DVDs he sold at local flea markets, pleaded guilty to trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Police in San Antonio recently put an end to the “Piracy King’s” reign.

Last Thursday, Ernest Christopher Smith, nicknamed the piracy king by local law enforcement officials because of the large number of fake DVDs he sold at local flea markets, pleaded guilty to trafficking in counterfeit goods.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents seized nearly 6,000 DVDs from Smith. The total value of his counterfeit goods was estimated at $85,120.

Smith was initially charged with criminal infringement of copyrights and trafficking in counterfeit goods, but he entered a plea agreement with federal prosecutors who agreed to dismiss other charges for admitting to the trafficking charge. He could face up to ten years in prison.

The latest case comes as part of a broader effort by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to crack down on counterfeiting. In March, the agencies announced that during fiscal year 2010, they made nearly 20,000 seizures, a 34 percent over 2009, with an estimated value of $188.1 million.

“The protection of intellectual property is a top priority for Homeland Security Investigations, as counterfeit products represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy and sometimes dangerous goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs,” said John T.Morton, the director of ICE.

“The trade in counterfeit goods costs legitimate businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue. These illicit proceeds also support other criminal activities in the United States and around the world,” added Vincent Iglio, the deputy special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio. “ICE investigations focus not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.”

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