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Pirate booty seized

Cops find $200 million in counterfeit discs

A task force of five law enforcement agencies Wednesday conducted raids at five alleged CD and DVD counterfeiting plants in Southern California.

Detectives estimated the retail value of the confiscated discs at $200 million, which would make Wednesday’s raid the largest single seizure of counterfeit CDs or DVDs ever, anywhere in the world.

Deputy Scott Gage, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., said search warrants were served simultaneously at five plants in Baldwin Park, Pomona, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana and North Hollywood.

The plants were all legitimate companies but also allegedly manufactured counterfeit discs, authorities said.

No arrests were made, but Gage said authorities are seeking arrest warrants. In addition to the confiscated discs, equipment used for making the CDs and DVDs were seized, including 79 stampers, the actual disc-making machinery.

Gage said the raid, dubbed “Operation Final Release,” capped a six-month investigation by 65 detectives from the Southern California High Tech Task Force. The task force consists of investigators from the Sheriff’s Dept., U.S. Secret Service, California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles Police Dept. They were aided by industry orgs Recording Industry Assn. of America and the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

As part of the investigation, detectives conducted a series of sting operations, Gage said, although he had no specific details.

The motion picture industry loses $3.5 billion a year to pirates, not including file sharing online, according to the MPAA. Losses in the recording industry also reach into the billions.

Both the recording and movie industries have undertaken legal campaigns against illegal file sharers and educational campaigns to convince the public that unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials is a serious problem.

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