U.S. Busts – July 2004

RIAA Anti-Piracy Seizure Information

California | District of Columbia | Florida | Georgia | Illinois | Louisiana | Maryland | Michigan | New Jersey | New York | Ohio | Pennsylvania | Texas | Wisconsin | Western Region | Dominican Republic


LAPD’s Anti-Piracy Unit Hits Music Pirate. The newly formed Los Angeles Police Department anti-piracy unit is aggressively attacking music piracy in L.A. In coordination with RIAA investigators, the unit executed a criminal search warrant at a private residence in Los Angeles, seized were 22 CD-R burners, 2 computers, 4 DVD recorders, 6,812 alleged counterfeit compact discs, 349 counterfeit DVDs and various related manufacturing materials. The owner of the operation was taken into custody and is being held on $25,000 bail. The investigation continues.

Serious Sentencing for Piracy. A 14-month investigation by the investigators of the Orange County California’s District Attorney’s, assisted by RIAA investigators, resulted in a 2-year sentence in state prison for an individual arrested on a 2003 search and seizure warrant. Seized at that time were 8 CD-R burners, computers and various related manufacturing materials, along with 17,892 completed unauthorized discs.

LAPD Anti-Piracy Unit Operations. Members of the LAPD Anti-Piracy Unit, assisted by RIAA responded and seized 12 CD burners, 4 DVD burners, 3,287 finished pirate CDs, 2,805 counterfeit DVDs, computers and other related manufacturing equipment. The investigation continues.

Two More California Counterfeit CD Plants Raided. Two California CD pressing facilities were raided by the LA High Tech Crimes Task Force. Some of the evidence seized includes 17,000 finished discs, 2 sets of molds, over 2,000 sets of stampers, 38 burners, 12 DVD burners, and a massive amount of records that should prove valuable in piecing together the entire conspiracy.

LA Crackdown on Sales of Pirated CDs. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, RIAA’s Executive VP, Brad Buckles, and the LAPD announced a crackdown on the sales of pirated compact discs in LA. The LAPD sweeps have resulted in the recent filing of 15 criminal cases against vendors who sold counterfeit products. Charges include failure to disclose the origin of recording and illegal sidewalk sales. Each charge of failing to disclose carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $25,000 fine and each count of illegal sidewalk sales carries a maximum of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

California High-Tech Task Force hits Underground CD Molding Plant. Following a three-month investigation initiated by the RIAA’s legal and investigative staff into the manufacture, distribution and sale of extremely high quality molded counterfeit/pirate CDs, the LA High Tech Crimes Task Force executed a search warrant at a CD replication facility in the greater Los Angeles area. Seized during the search were 15,857 CDs, 113,700 CD inset sets, 80 stampers, multiple computer systems and two Netstal 600 replicator mold sets. Also located during the search was the machine capable of generating the white security labels, bearing various color company logos and bar codes. The machines in the facility had the ability to manufacture approximately 18,000 units each per day. The investigation continues in the distribution aspect of this case.

LA Prosecuting Piracy at Unprecedented Rate. The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has been prosecuting street music vendors at an unprecedented rate. That office has indicated that they are going to highlight this work by holding a press conference to announce the filing of criminal charges on about 15 people at one time. Chief of Police William Bratton, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Mayor James Hahn and others will be present. The City Attorney’s Office has indicated that they believe it would be useful to have a high-profile Latin artist at this event to draw more attention to the importance of the problem. It is our understanding that the press conference would focus solely on the RIAA efforts and music piracy.

District of Columbia

DC Metropolitan Area Operations. On July 15, Fairfax County PD, Herndon PD, assisted by RIAA investigators, executed 19 search warrants on local addresses. Since 2003, police and other agencies have been investigating locations in the areas believed to be involved in the sale, manufacture, and distribution of counterfeit CDs and DVDs. Over 90 law enforcement personnel from the following agencies participated in the raid, Virginia State Police, FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office. As a result of this operation, 35,000 counterfeit/pirated CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, and cassettes were seized, and one arrest was made. The investigation continues. Also, as a result of a joint investigation by the FBI, Norfolk PD, and Newport News PD, 3 Hampton Roads’ men plead guilty to charges of Criminal Copyright Infringement and Trafficking in Counterfeit Labels in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Defendants face potential penalties of up to 5 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for October 2004.


Miami Anti-piracy Enforcement. Miami, Florida police, with assistance from the RIAA, seized 4,873 pirate/counterfeit CD-Rs from a vendor and manufacturer in Miami, Florida. Police also seized 15 52-speed CD-R burners, 500 blank CD-Rs, and 1,000 envelopes/inserts. Approximately 75% of the product consisted of Urban repertoire while 25% was Latin.

Florida Enforcement Operation. In St. Petersburg, Florida, St Petersburg PD, assisted by RIAA, arrested six vendors. Seized were 8,153 counterfeit/pirated CD-R’s, 2 burners @52X speed, and a vehicle. Genre, 100% Urban Hip Hop. Atlanta PD arrested a street vendor and seized approximately 3,000 pirate/counterfeit CD-R’s.

Music Piracy Training. This past week RIAA attorneys conducted music piracy prosecution training to prosecutors from Austin, Texas, St. Louis, Missouri and Montgomery, AL. Anti-piracy training was also provided to over 100 law enforcement officers and prosecutors in two sessions which took place in Tallahassee, Fl and Tampa, Fl. RIAA representatives provided both legal and investigative training to police agencies from 30 counties in Northern Florida. These training sessions were coordinated through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and included many officers and prosecutors responsible for investigating and prosecuting economic and white-collar crimes. On Saturday, April 17-2004, the Tampa Police Department, assisted by the RIAA, seized 2,911 counterfeit/pirated music CD-R’s, five CD-R burners @ 52X speed, raw material for manufacturing, and a vehicle from five street vendors in Tampa, Florida. The five individuals were arrested under Florida’s True Name and Address statute. The genre of music seized was 75% urban/hip hop and 25% Latin, and contained works from such artists as Jay Z, Beyonce, Nelly, Shakira, Enrique Iglesias and other popular artists.


Flea Market Enforcement in Georgia. The Whitefield County Sheriffs Office assisted by RIAA investigators carried out a raid at a major flea market in Dalton, GA. Sixteen arrests were made, and seized were 10,000 pirated/counterfeit CD-R’s, all of Latin genre.

Federal Take Down of Huge Atlanta Piracy Operation. RIAA personnel have been working for months with the FBI in Atlanta and officers of the Atlanta Police Department on a major piracy ring in Atlanta. These efforts culminated in the execution of federal search warrants at two distribution locations in Atlanta, where a total of 256,411 counterfeit and pirate CD-R’s were seized. In addition, seven individuals were arrested for violation of the Georgia True Name and Address Statute. The search locations were secured by the FBI and the Atlanta PD SWAT Team. A total of 60 law enforcement officers took part in the raids.


Music Piracy related to other Serious Crimes. While some are inclined to characterize CD piracy as a less serious crime, a couple of individuals involved in music piracy this week demonstrate that criminals are criminals. The Skokie, Illinois Police Department served a narcotics search warrant on a resident and discovered a CD-R manufacturing operation, with 25 CD-R burners. In another case, a Chicago man charged in Illinois for unlawful use of unidentified sound records was picked up by federal law enforcement authorities in Wisconsin to face bank robbery charges.

Chicago police simultaneously raided 2 local retail stores following undercover buys by RIAA personnel of counterfeit and pirated CD-Rs. Both locations were distributing and manufacturing CDs on demand. Recovered from the plain view seizure were 3,240 CD-Rs, (2) 48x speed CD-R burners, a computer, 373 masters, 900 CD-R blanks, and a CD player. 4 individuals were arrested and charged with a felony.

A Chicago Heights, IL retail owner was arrested after local police conducted a plain view seizure on his store. 107 illegal CDs and 123 DVD movies were confiscated during the seizure. Prior to the arrest, RIAA investigative consultants surveyed the store and informed police of the illegal activity.

A Chicago man plead guilty to the charge of Unlawful Use of Sound Recording and was sentenced to 30 months felony probation and ordered to pay $10,000.00 restitution to the RIAA. The defendant was arrested on 8/13/2003 after police conducted a consented search on his home. 2,342 CD-Rs, 7 CD-R burners, 200 CD-R blanks and a computer were recovered from the search.

Felony Charges Getting Tough in Chicago. Chicago police raided a local retail store following undercover buys by RIAA personnel. Owner and clerk arrested and charged with felonies.

A number of voluntary surrenders occurred at the Swap O Rama Flea Market in Illinois. This market has several locations which continue to have illegal compact discs seized from vendors on their grounds. RIAA representative conducted voluntary surrenders simultaneously at all of the Swap O Rama locations. In all, over 2,000 counterfeit & piratical CD-Rs were surrendered from several vendors. Many arrests have been made and many voluntary surrenders have already been conducted at all Swap O Rama Flea Market s. A majority of the surrendered product was of Latin genre.

Retail Music Store Burning Counterfeit CD-Rs. A Chicago retail music store owner and manufacturer of illegal CD-R’s was arrested and charged with a felony as a result of a 2-month investigation initiated by RIAA investigators. Undercover purchases resulted in the seizure by the Chicago Police of a large supply of pirate CD-R’s, CD-R burners, a color copier, and other items used to make counterfeit CD-R’s that were being sold in the store.

Training Makes for More Arrests and Seizures. In Chicago, the Chicago Police Department acting on its own initiative arrested three vendors for the possession of and attempt to sell counterfeit CD-R’s, confiscated were 1,305 CDRs and numerous DVDs. RIAA investigators who had trained the PD were called to the station to review evidence and sign complaints, trial pending in all three cases.


Federal Agents Trained in Music Piracy. RIAA Director of Training provided music piracy identification and criminal enforcement training to 50 federal agents at the IPR Centers Training in New Orleans.


Baltimore Police Officer Killed by Pirate CD Vendor. A Baltimore police officer was shot and killed Saturday night by a person he had arrested several days earlier, police said. Brian Winder, 36, a 10-year veteran, was attacked by two men, one of whom Winder had arrested earlier for selling pirated DVDs and CDs. Police declined to release specific details of the shooting, but said Winder was communicating with a dispatcher when he was attacked and shot several times. He was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead. Police had a suspect in custody, and were searching for another.


Detroit Flea Market Shut Down. A client lead by Univision resulted in a raid and the close of business for a Detroit flea market. Surveillance and evidence purchases conducted by RIAA investigators confirmed illegal activity at the flea market. The Detroit PD arrested four individuals working at the flea market and over 8,000 counterfeit/piratical CD-R’s were seized. Most importantly, felony charges are pending.

New Jersey

Tough Sentencing from Atlantic City Operations. An Atlantic City, New Jersey street vendor has been sentenced to five years incarceration relating to a September 2003 arrest by the Atlantic City PD. At the time of the arrest, 460 counterfeit and pirate CD-Rs were seized. This arrest was a result of “Operation Atlantic City” and involved the service of 13 simultaneous search warrants. This investigation was a cooperative effort with MPAA and clothing industry representatives.

New York

NY Trademark Unit Activity. NYPD Trademark Unit, assisted by RIAA investigators executed a search warrant at a distribution in Manhattan, which resulted in the seizure of 37,400 counterfeit/pirated CD-R’s, genre 50 Latin and 50% Urban.

New York City Operations. Units throughout New York City continue to keep pressure on manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of pirate music operating within New York City. The NYPD Manhattan North Task Force, assisted by RIAA investigators, executed a search warrant at a distribution, resulting in one arrest and the seizure of 14,800 counterfeit/pirate CD-Rs and 200 DVDs. Members of the NYPD Brooklyn Vice Unit executed a search warrant on a retail business, resulting in two arrests and the seizure of 7 50 counterfeit/pirated CD-Rs. The NYPD Manhattan District Attorneys Squad, assisted by RIAA investigators, executed a search warrant on a major distribution, resulting in two arrests and the seizure of 40,000 counterfeit/pirated CD-Rs. Two additional search warrants were executed, 1 on a vehicle used to transport the merchandise and the second on a residence used as a manufacturing point for the illicit sale of CDs and DVDs. At the residence 7 towers containing 62 CD-R Burners, 1,800 counterfeit CD-R’s, and 3,600 blank CD-R’s were seized. Members of the NYPD 72nd Precinct on Retail Enforcement, assisted by RIAA investigators arrested 1 individual for the sale of 360 counterfeit/pirated CD-Rs.

NYPD Operations. The NYPD Staten Island Task Force, assisted by RIAA investigators, executed a search warrant at a distribution, resulting in one arrest and the seizure of 18,000 counterfeit/pirate CD-R’s and 5775 DVDs, genre 100% Urban. Members of the NYPD Bronx Task Force executed a search warrant of an illegal CD manufacturing lab in the rear of a private house, resulting in four arrests and the seizure of 76 CD-R burners, and 3,950 CD-Rs. A second search warrant was executed by the Bronx Task Force at a distribution location directly connected to a manufacturer. In that operation, another 15,700 counterfeit CD-R’s and 1,400 counterfeit movie DVDs were seized. The music seized in the Bronx operations was approximately 70% Latin genre and 30% Urban.

NYPD Arrests & Seizures. The NYPD remains active in piracy enforcement. In one case officers arrested three individuals and seized approximately 17,000 counterfeit sound recordings. Music genre was 50% Urban and 50% Latin. In another case the NYPD’s OCID Unit, executed search warrants were served at the American Storage, which resulted in three arrests and the seizure of 30,000 unauthorized sound recordings in CDR format from two storage rooms. Genre was 40% Latin and 60% Urban/Pop. The MPAA seizure totaled 8,309 movie DVDs and 975 VHS.

New York Distribution Site Hit. The NYPD’s major case squad, together with the RIAA, MPAA, and US Postal Service executed a search warrant at 43-26 52nd Street, and as a result, three male Asians were arrested for running a distribution site. Seized were 42,000 illicit CDR’s. Music seized ran the entire range – 35% Latin, 30% Urban, 30% Pop, and 5% Country & Western.

Canal Street Enforcement Project. The New York City Police Department in conjunction with NYC Enforcement Legal Division executed Nuisance Abatement Court Orders in the basement at 365 Canal Street, which contained approximately 53,000 pirate CD-R’s. The music genre was 70% Urban, 20% Latin, 10% Rock, 50% pirate, 40% counterfeit. Subsequently, a suit was filed against the landlord by Rolex and Luis Vuitton, resulting in the landlord evicting all the tenants in the basement.

NY Mayor’s Task Force Remains Active. The Mayor’s trademark task force continued its aggressive trademark and copyright violations this week, closing down another distribution site. To date, more than 8 buildings have been raided as part of the joint partnership between affected businesses and city agencies. Fines against landlords have been unprecedented. Also, unprecedented is the total embracing by the Mayor’s office to recognize the impact counterfeiting has on the cities economy and quality of life. NYPD, in conjunction with their Civil Enforcement Unit’s legal division also executed court orders at 365 Canal Street, resulting in the seizure of approximately 14,000 counterfeit CDR’s and an order closing the subject premises. Music was 80% urban and 20% Latin.

Other NY Cities Join the Fight Against Music Piracy. Mount Vernon, NY Mayor Ernest Davis held a press conference in front of City Hall with Police Commissioner and many other city dignitaries to have a public display of destroying the counterfeit products and paraphernalia. This display was a result of four warrants in two weeks resulting in 4 arrests and seizures of 10,000 counterfeit sound recordings. Information provided by a confidential source lead to the search and seizure of a garage distribution located in Philadelphia where additional counterfeit CD-Rs and counterfeit movies were seized. The sound recordings consisted of Rap, Hip Hop, and Urban Contemporary music. The RIAA assisted law enforcement during all phases of the investigation.


A Cleveland, Ohio man was arrested by local police after an officer who was working an off-duty assignment at a local mall observed defendant (who was previously banned from the mall for selling counterfeit CD-Rs). The off-duty officer asked the defendant to exit the mall. The defendant activated the surveillance system while exiting. The defendant’s belongings were searched and 330 illegal CD-Rs were found, along with a loaded .38 caliber handgun, and a small blunt of Marijuana. A trial is pending. This is a clear example that music fraud often involves other serious criminal offenses.

The corporation, Ohio Vending, pled guilty to federal charges that had resulted from an FBI investigation of illegally copied sound recording being utilized in Jukeboxes boxes in the State of Ohio. The corporation pled to a class D felony and was ordered to pay $400 in court costs and $24,960 in restitution to the RIAA.


The Philadelphia Police Department and assisted by RIAA and MPAA personnel raided four locations which included a manufacturer. A total of 14 CD-R burners, 15 DVD/CD burners, 5,995 CD-Rs, a large quantity of insert cards, blank CD-Rs, jewel boxes, etc. Five individuals were arrested with trial pending. Probable cause developed for the search warrants was developed through surveillance conducted by Philadelphia PD, RIAA and MPAA staff.

Federal Court in Pittsburgh Hands Down Stiff Sentence and Orders Restitution. On July 15 an individual was sentenced in a Pittsburgh federal court to 18 months imprisonment and $120,000 restitution to RIAA for dealing in bootleg sound recordings. He had been caught in November 2002, with over 10,000 bootleg CD-R’s and videotapes, 1,760 masters, one computer, and 4 CD-R burners.

Major Philadelphia Producer Raided. The Philadelphia Police Department raided a manufacturing facility for pirate music and arrested five individuals involved in the operations. There were 79 CD-R burners, large quantities of raw product, counterfeit insert cards, packaging material, and a quantity of finished product found on the scene, all of which was seized by the authorities. Investigation continues with additional arrests pending.

RIAA Honorary Gold Record Awards. RIAA officials presented a Gold Record Award to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for their extraordinary efforts to prosecute music fraud in the city of Philadelphia. RIAA honored four prosecutors and one judge for their steadfast work during the last two years in addressing the epidemic of music piracy plaguing the Philadelphia region. During the span of time, coordinated efforts between RIAA investigators and counsel, law enforcement, and the Philadelphia DA have resulted in 158 convictions for piracy-related charges. These cases have constituted noteworthy successes against both major manufacturers of pirated product and street vendors. The press conference covering this event was attended by television, radio, and print media, thereby extending the clear message of the Philadelphia DA’s Office that the manufacture and sale of illicit music products will not be tolerated in Philadelphia.

Operation 52nd Street. An initial formulation of Operation 52nd Street is underway. The 52nd Street corridor in Philadelphia is heavily populated by street vendors selling an assortment of counterfeit intellectual property. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Office and Bill Shannon of MPAA are scheduling initial meetings with law enforcement, city regulatory agencies, city council members, local retailers and other IP holders to participate in these actions. Contact is being made with Philadelphia International Records, a member company, to assist in forming the coalition to attack the matter.

Retail Store Enforcement is Paying Off. Philadelphia Police executed a search warrant at one retail store location leading to the arrest of one person and an arrest warrant being issued for the owner of the store. A total of 1,220 counterfeit and pirated CDR’s and 231 DVDs were seized from the property. A second retail store being worked in Philadelphia resulted in no arrests or seizures, but was a good sign. When our Confidential Informant and an undercover Philadelphia police officer entered a retail location in Philadelphia attempting to purchase illegal product, the person behind the counter stated that he is not selling music anymore because everyone in the area is being arrested for this illegal act. The employee took the CI and undercover officer into the back room, showed them empty shelves where the sound recordings were once displayed. This is an indication that our aggressive enforcement against retailers in Philadelphia is leading to positive results and a change in attitude by store owners.

Significant Restitution Ordered in Pittsburgh Case. A federal court judge in Pittsburg has accepted a plea agreement and ordered $120,000 in restitution in a case involving a major national distributor of bootleg sound recordings. The defendant pled guilty to multiple counts of trafficking in counterfeit labels and bootleg sound recordings. The evidence consisted of over 10,000 unauthorized audio and video recordings of live musical performances, replicating equipment, and a full library of illicit master recordings. In addition to the restitution, he faced forfeiture of his equipment and faces a prison term of 18 to 24.


On Friday, July 30, 2004, members of the Houston Police Department, with the assistance of RIAA investigators, conducted a plain view seizure at 6731 Windswept in Houston, and seized 1,734 counterfeit music CD-Rs from a street vendor. The vendor and his partner were arrested and charged with violating Texas’ True Name and Address Statute. The vendor’s inventory was entirely of the Latin music genre containing artists such as Vicente Fernandez, Shakira, Los Tigres del Norte and others.

Education Outreach. Donald Valdez was the featured CLE speaker at the Dallas Bar Association’s Entertainment and Sports Law Section in Dallas, Texas. The topic of discussion was ‘Protecting Music: An Update and Refresher on Music Piracy Enforcement’. Regional Counsel Chuck Hausman participated in the May 27th task force seminar “Intellectual Property Criminal Enforcement”. The training conference at the U.S. Secret Service field office included Steve Cooley, L.A. County District Attorney, key law enforcement and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Secret Service, FBI, and local law enforcement members of high tech crime task forces in Southern California.


Bad Beat Tip. A Bad Beat Tip led to arrests last week by the Milwaukee Police. While the case is not in and of itself remarkable, it reflects how the use of local contract investigators when combined with the RIAA’s efforts to work liaison with and train Police Departments can lead to enforcement actions even in locations where RIAA has no permanent staffing. Surveillance by an RIAA Investigative Consultant provided the basis for the arrests by local police. Approximately 2,000 CD-Rs were seized and all defendants were charged with a felony offense.

Member Company Support Leads to Guilty Plea by Major Wisconsin Distributor. A major distributor of counterfeit sound recordings in Milwaukee pled guilty to trafficking in counterfeit trademarks. He will be sentenced to not less than 24 months in jail and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to the RIAA. Member company witnesses from BMG, Universal, and Warner Bros. were present and participated in preparation for the trial. Their preparation for the case and their readiness to testify were important factors causing the defendant to plead guilty.

Western Region

Street Blitz in Phoenix and Seattle. Police in Phoenix and Seattle conducted focused enforcement efforts against illegal street vendors which resulted in the arrest of 8 vendors and the seizure of 6,864 unauthorized CDs in Phoenix and 3 arrests and the seizure of 7,834 CDs in Seattle. These actions followed intense training programs for both departments by RIAA.

Western Region Street Blitz Activities. Recent training efforts by RIAA staff in the Western Region paid off as local police departments in Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Seattle carried out a series of enforcement actions against street vendors. The street blitz by officers of the Phoenix, Arizona PD resulted in the arrest of 8 vendors and the seizure of over 6,000 pirate CDs. In Los Angeles police conducted a sweep of the downtown area and confiscated over 31,000 largely Latin counterfeit pieces. And, in a separate operation, LAPD seized 24 CD-R burners, 2 computers, almost 10,000 counterfeit CDs, and various related manufacturing materials. The owner of the operation was arrested and is being held on a $25,000 bail. In Seattle, the Seattle Police Department conducted a number of street sweeps in the downtown area as part of an ongoing investigation and criminal actions aimed at curbing the sale of illicit CDs by street vendors in that city. During the two-day period, almost 7,000 CDs were seized, 4 vendors were cited, and 2 were arrested. These actions are part of an ongoing program that our Western Regional Office has established with the Seattle Police Department.

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic Enforcement Efforts Nets Illegal Manufacturer. On July 21, 14,020 counterfeit/pirate CD-Rs seized from a manufacturer/distributor in Santo Domingo resulted in the arrest of three individuals, genre Latin.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic Manufacturing Site Hit. National Police, assisted by Adoprofono and RIAA, raided a CD-R manufacturing plant and seized 34,523 counterfeit CD-Rs, 6,080 counterfeit cassettes, 20,000 counterfeit inserts, 4 computers, 8 burners @52X speed, a scanner, 2 photocopy machines, and 3 professional shrink wrap machines. One individual was arrested during this operation. Genre, 100% Latin.

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