Friday, June 11, 2004

EXCLUSIVE: Scoop on Battery Park Counterfeiter Bust!

Today during a walk through Battery Park, only blocks from my apartment, I happened upon a police bust of people who were selling counterfeit purses. The sale of counterfeit purses, sunglasses, watches and whatever else, is common practice in Battery Park, which is typically thick with tourist traffic. Battery Park is located right at the southern tip of Manhattan, where the ferries from Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty leave and arrive. In the 3 acre park there are also several war memorials, and a memorial for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, which occurred only a few hundred feet away.

Battery Park, while popular, is certainly eclipsed by Canal St. as the main New York City spot for selling counterfeit goods. Here is a nice descriptive blog post about Battery Park, pictures of counterfeit material being sold there, and the Park's unofficial site. [Click on any of the pics for a larger version.]

This is the scene after police cordoned off the area, which was teeming with tourists. The two closest men are undercover officers, these aren't secret service agent style under covers with black suits, they look just like normal tourists. Beyond the men and mostly out of view there are several garbage bags full of counterfeit purses the police have confiscated.

Here is a pic from a little further out. On the left of the picture you can see an officer holding a white bag full of counterfeit material. The white car is an unmarked police car.

Here you see some under covers outside of the cordoned off area chatting up a few of those who I suspect were the "innocent until proven guilty" parties (who are on the right). It appeared that the police were going to let the offenders go, only confiscating their counterfeit goods. In my experience those selling the counterfeit purses are almost always immigrants, and I believe that was the case here (African, possibly Senegalese). There probably is little reason to arrest these small time players who are just trying to get by in New York City, this racket is controlled by big time organized crime.

The police didn't like my picture taking and told me to get out of there. I wanted to get an interview with an officer and some more pics, but so goes it. Maybe next time. There were no media photographers or reporters there, but I will follow up and check for further stories or reports.


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