11 arrested at farmer's market raid

Agents search boxes at the farmer's market. (Photo: Mark Segraves/WJLA)

Federal agents raided a D.C. farmer’s market Friday afternoon and arrested 11 people for selling bootlegged or knockoff items.

The farmer’s market near Galludet University is a popular spot to shop for bargains on fresh food and discounted clothing, perfume and accessories. The reason some items are so cheap is because they’re bootlegged, agents say.

"We're finding counterfeit purses, counterfeit clothing to include NFL paraphernalia, counterfeit Nike sneakers, as well as fragrances and perfumes,” said Scott Rittenberg, deputy special agent at ICE.

Eleven people were arrested and charged with deceptive labeling and trademark counterfeiting. Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement began their raid at the market off Florida Avenue just before 11 Friday morning in a joint investigation with D.C. police.

"This is good. We have to be legal and follow the law, everyone should be legal" said merchant Abed Almalla.

Merhle Dutrow has been selling farm goods here for nearly 70 years and understands why the agents conducted the raid, but wondered why they don't go after the suppliers instead of the little guys.

"Why don't they go to New York and get the guys who are bringing this stuff in by the car load?" she asked.

The market will be open this weekend as usual. Federal agents made a similar raid a few weeks ago outside Nationals ballpark where they confiscated counterfeit Nationals jerseys, hats and other baseball items. Most of the counterfeit goods confiscated in the United States originate in China.