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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Designer knock-offs aren’t hard to find in Dallas. But police want to change that with help from a recent $400,000 grant from the Department of Justice. They’re joining an international effort to crack down on counterfeiters and the crimes they’re connected to.

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Expert on counterfeiting crimes, Homeland Security Special Agent John McNair said fake goods are big business — but not for the type of companies deserving of support.

“We’ve seen many cases over and over where the manufacturing is done utilizing child labor in factories overseas where it’s clearly not regulated,” said McNair.

Tackling organized crime one phony Hermès Berkin bag at a time, the federal government follows the money consumers spend on pirated DVDs or fake designer clothes, too.

“It leads us back to Russia… to China and all points in between,” said McNair.

Efforts made to accurately copy designer details require an investment. And groups engaged in organized crime are the ones who have that kind of time and money, according to McNair.

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“From human trafficking to drug smuggling to extortion and bribery — very mafia-type scenarios,” he said.
Investigators have even found links to terrorism.

“A lot of times those point back to specific groups that are tied to very radical situations,” said McNair.

And though it may be hard to believe, McNair said consumers looking for a good deal may inadvertently support international crime.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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