Officials tout Super Bowl plans to crimp counterfeiting, ground drones, curb human trafficking

Feb 5, 2024, 6:16 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Amid warnings about counterfeit goods, human trafficking and illegal drones at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, federal, state and local security officials said Monday they’re preparing for a busy week in the air, at airports, at Allegiant Stadium and in merchandise shops as crowds arrive for the NFL championship game.

Representatives from agencies including Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration — accompanied by a bomb-sniffing beagle named Ozzie — briefed the media at Harry Reid International Airport about their plans to counter such illegal activity.

The officials displayed a table piled high with knockoff sports memorabilia including jerseys, T-shirts, caps, beanies and a sparkling silver replica of the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy.

“The merchandise you see on display today is nothing compared to the millions of fake goods that criminals will try to sell online, on the street and through other unauthorized sources,” said Cheryl Davies, lead Super Bowl field coordinator for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Our message is clear: Don’t buy this stuff.”

“We have collectively surged resources in the months leading up to the Super Bowl to identify and target individuals illegally importing counterfeit goods into the United States,” said Christopher Miller, Homeland Security Investigations agent in charge in Las Vegas.

Investigators seized nearly $1 million worth of counterfeit merchandise from four locations just during the last weekend, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said after the briefing. He declined to provide details, saying investigations were continuing.

The air around Allegiant Stadium next Sunday has been designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as a “no drone zone.” Takeover signals and jammers will be used if necessary, said Karen Burke, TSA Nevada security director.

Commercial air operations at nearby Harry Reid Airport are not expected to be affected. But Davies said customs agency Blackhawk and A-star helicopters will be aloft to protect airspace and enforce no-fly zones.

Ralph Lepore, an airport administrator with the Clark County Department of Aviation, focused on efforts to stem human trafficking, which he said was neither new nor exclusive to big events.

“We’re reminding all our employees, partners and guests to be alert and act if they see something suspicious,” he said. “It’s extremely important.”

Burke noted that TSA officers were trained to spot human trafficking and that extra agents will be added to handle record post-game crowds expected to top more than 100,000 passengers a day early next week at Harry Reid airport. She promised that every lane of every airport security checkpoint will be open nonstop for 48 hours after the Super Bowl ends.

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