U.S. Busts – May 2007

RIAA Anti-Piracy Seizure Information

Arizona | California | Georgia | Massachusetts | New York | Puerto Rico | Rhode Island


May 2007 – The operation, dubbed “Pirates of the Oasis,” was a record-setting bust for authorities, seizing among other things, 357 burners. The investigation, which began in January 2007, was initiated by the RIAA. Information had linked the “Espana” organization in Phoenix, to the distribution of high-quality pirated products throughout several western states. The Western Regional office developed the original leads, then took the case to the Phoenix PD. Along with other law enforcement authorities, the Phoenix Police executed a series of search and arrest warrants between May 15 through May 18. The investigation dismantled a piracy operation, responsible for manufacturing and distributing burned music and movie products. Each product was virtually indistinguishable from legitimate product. The only difference being most of it was burned to CDR and DVD-R media, rather than pressed at a CD replicating plant. The large operation was spread out through eight different locations, each responsible for a distinctive aspect in the pirating process. This included facilities where the product was initially received, to where the artwork for discs and packaging was processed. Another location was used solely to burn/record the content. These locations included family residences, family businesses, rented warehouses and public storage facilities. The quality of the product was reflected in the equipment seized. A $500,000 silk screen printer, 28 printers/ copiers and commercial cellophane wrapping machines were all confiscated. All in all, the operation netted an astonishing 357 burners, 150,000 music and movie finished products, an additional 72,000 ‘in process’ music and movie discs, 19,000 insert cards, 121,000 jewel trays/casings and sophisticated commercial equipment. Piracy on the west coast took a big hit with this record-breaking seizure.


May 11, 2007 – Following a jury trial conviction in San Bernadino County, a man was sentenced to 27 years to life on piracy charges. He was sentenced under California’s “3 strikes law” and must serve at least 26 years in prison before he will be eligible for parole. Piracy was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The suspect had a lengthy rap sheet that included prior serious felony convictions for attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, narcotics offenses and a prior felony arrest for music piracy. In fact, he was out of state prison for merely a few weeks when arrested in March 2006 for the previous music/movie piracy charges. The suspect was brought down for a last time, while working at a barbershop in Rialto, CA. His brother and fellow gang banger, both worked at the shop and were under heat for recent piracy arrests. Leaving the suspect to tend the shop, he sold five MARY J. BLIGE CDs to an undercover San Bernadino PD officer. The next day, officials executed a search warrant discovering 1,927 pirated music CDRs and 444 DVDRs. The suspect was arrested and taken into custody on felony piracy charges and parole violations. he will be eligible for parole in the year 2033.

May 16, 2007 – Investigators assisted LAPD in executing a search warrant at a residence and storage facility. One man was arrested while officials seized 36 burners, 12,493 CDRs and 994 DVDs.


May 7, 2007 – The Fulton County Fire Department responded to a fire alarm expecting to find a fire. Instead, they found something else burning. Upon entering the location to investigate, firefighters observed what they believed to be an illegal CD/DVD operation. Members of the fire department then contacted the Fulton County PD. Officers determined a large quantity of suspected counterfeit compact discs and DVDs. RIAA investigators were notified by the Fulton County PD about the possible counterfeit operation. The location was determined to be a previous RIAA target for illegal CDs/ DVDs. No arrests were made at the scene, however, investigators were able to seize a total of 14,325 CDRs and 7,843 DVDRs.


May 30, 2007 – Investigators assisted the New Bedford, MA, Police Dept. in executing a search warrant. Officials uncovered more than just CDs and DVDs at the burner lab. Inside a safe, investigators discovered 1 kilo of cocaine along with a significant amount of cash. 1,325 CDRs and 100 Music DVDs were also seized by officials.

New York

May 15, 2007 – RIAA investigators found thousands of counterfeit products, being sold near the Broadway area of New York City. Surveillance began on Broadway back in late April. Investigators purchased evidence of pirated DVDs on two separate instances. They later determined that the products were in fact counterfeit, which enable them to execute a search warrant. On May 15, 2007, investigators teamed with the NYPD 81st Police Precinct in the execution of a search warrant. The Broadway location was determined to be a burner lab for manufacturing and distributing CDs and DVDs. The total seized were 13, 608 Music CDRs, 12,612 MPAA Movie DVDRs and one tower containing eight burners.

Puerto Rico

May 2007 – Teamed with investigators from the RIAA and MPAA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents executed what was part of “Operation Digital Pirates.” Officials went through several flea markets in the municipalities of Rio Piedras, Vega Baja, Mayaguez, Aquailla, Hatillo, Rio Grande, Guayanilla and Salinas, Puerto Rico. Agents were able to detain more than 40 persons for questioning. Each was asked about their alleged involvement in the production and selling of pirated movies and music. After many interviews, officials came up with two men who were subsequently arrested, and charged with violations of intellectual property rights laws. “When flea markets become pirate bazaars, they undermine the local economy by hurting legal businesses and depriving the government of critical revenue,” said Brad Buckles, Executive Vice President, Anti-Piracy, RIAA. From the $1 million worth of counterfeit product, there were 30,648 CDs and 23,006 Movie DVDs. Also seized were 45 burners, two laptops and raw material.

Rhode Island

May 5, 2007 – In February 2006, investigators conducted surveillance at a location in Providence, RI. They witnessed a U-Haul truck being unloaded with boxes, consistent with the size of CD cases. Investigators identified the man unloading the truck, as previously being arrested on piracy charges. Officials later searched the location where the U-Haul had been parked. On May 5, 2007, investigators assisted the Rhode Island State Police in the execution of a search warrant. The U-Haul was a sign of things to come when officials discovered a burner lab. After two arrests, investigators seized 44 burners, 7,081 CDRs, 9 Music DVDs and 3,887 MPAA Movies.

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