Amanda Raus, Chris Podosek
Authorities confiscated more than $2 million in counterfeit merchandise during a raid at a New Haven flea market Saturday.
Twenty-eight people were arrested during a raid at a flea market in New Haven on Saturday and officials seized around $2 million in counterfeit good.
At 2 p.m., authorities stormed the flea market at 500 Ella Grasso Blvd., arrested the people selling the counterfeit items and seized the merchandise.
The raid came after a two-month investigation into counterfeit items started and members of the New Haven Police Department, State Police and Homeland Security were briefed on the raid.
"We went in there sa, you know, with a couple trucks and we ended up taking about 15 truckloads of merchandise out," said New Haven Police Officer David Hartman.
Among the counterfeit items were imitation brand-name handbags, shoes, clothing and perfumes that police said have been known to cause health problems.
“We’ve had umpteenth reports of people who have used these types of products who end up with skin rashes and other much more serious health consequences, so it’s really important to get these things off the street,” Hartman said.
“There’s approximately nine aisles, then the very long front aisle and the very long back aisle,” said New Haven Police Sgt. Robert Lawlor, who led the raid.
An officer and a representative from the high-end brands police said flea market vendors have been ripping off went through each aisle.
“We’re looking for a cross-section of merchandise -- everything from fragrances and pocketbooks and electronic accessories to clothing,” Lawlor said on Saturday.
In one tent, officers found people putting Michael Kors labels on generic bags, police said.
In another, they found counterfeit UGG boots, but it wasn’t just the items on the table that caught the officers’ attention.
“What you’ll see often behind the booths are going to be items that would attract police attention because of their popularity as counterfeit and bootleg items,” said Hartman.
Hartman pointed out boxes that contained phony North Face clothing behind the tent where two men were arrested for selling counterfeit perfume.
“Either they’re manufactured and just packaged as such and they’re not genuine, or they’re either stolen or hijacked products,” said Hartman.
The customers inside the flea market agreed and said they’ve become wary of what they buy.
“If you buy the real thing and you buy it to compare it, it’s nothing the same, at all,” Loronda Watkins, of West Haven, said.
Police hope the raid will lead them to the sources of these counterfeit items to get them off the streets.