Black Market for Counterfeit Goods Rakes in $500 Billion Yearly

"Nightline" embeds with LAPD, CBP as they police trade more lucrative than drugs.
5:28 | 10/22/13

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Transcript for Black Market for Counterfeit Goods Rakes in $500 Billion Yearly
At a rooftop police parking lot in downtown LA please go to America. We had. Final briefing for a joint task force of FBI. The LAPD. Was arrested twice during the past. In particular -- -- -- on the cover bite from him when the questions of the -- has finished. Agents and officers -- -- its. In the prior -- -- -- 100 brighter on the way. Soon they'll be racing up the stairs of a nearby building would. Help our. No this is not a drug test officers with the LAPD's -- Searching for something far more profitable than drug. News good retirement. How are very goods. But to Brennan -- All covered here all of their -- -- -- And who has. Citizen -- one detective Rick issued Tommy has been on the counterfeit beat more than a dozen years there's more money made. On this stuff and narcotic. An average of 500 billion dollars a year -- if he does bust like this thirtieth 35 times a year well diploma. Counterfeit goods from luxury handbags to dvds. Are a huge problem. Industry groups claim criminals steal copyrighted material worth half a trillion dollars every year. While that estimate may be grossly inflated like the price of some luxury goods. The losses to big brand names are big enough to make copyright enforcement. Huge priority for the Customs Service. The front lines in that fight are here to port of Los Angeles and Long Beach biggest in the US event. More goods come through Los Angeles Long -- than all other major American -- combined. That's because this is the first stop for almost everything the US imports from China Japan and Korea. That's a lot of stuff on average -- container arrives here every six seconds. Never one at a time always on huge vessels like this -- Nightline embedded with the US Customs and Border Protection. To see how they lead the effort to police counterfeit goods with -- -- goods coming in every day. A significant challenge to find -- wrong. -- they're simply too much to search today as we board this vessel the customs officers have a pretty good idea where to look. As immigration clears the captain and crew. -- South Korea the officers are already doing a preliminary search. Take their time the ship like this will take days to unload. Among the most urgent priorities things that might pose -- health or -- safety. Radioactive material for one yeah. The scanners indicating the presence of radiation on this struck soon. So -- have to go through a secondary inspection. In this case thankfully apparently not radiation that poses any threat. And it's coming -- the national -- sudden natural radiation not a dangerous radiation. That -- to be worried about. But if the container is in any way suspicious. Customs officers opened it on the spot with the management and -- -- -- -- -- The goods that are impounded for secondary inspection and up here. In a warehouse a few blocks away from the port. What we have here is suspected counterfeit an expert in him back in -- supervisor Brian -- -- bill shows us a shipment of I think there was six. -- -- If they were real the shipment would be worth more than 210. Million dollars on the black market the -- would fetch 300000. Customs agents take umbrage at any suggestion this is a victimless crime. Or that through enforcement efforts like this the US government is helping to prop up the artificially high -- Luxury goods targeted by the -- for -- They insist it isn't just the makers of 4000 dollar bags that are harmed by counterfeit imports. More than likely to get -- it's gonna finance -- -- illicit activity whether terrorism human trafficking drugs. Something of the such something. So this is a criminals ATM machine is what you're saying these fact that I guess it's the same as importing drugs or people. Back at that LAPD -- -- 24 year old guy who runs this back Alley shop pleads for leniency. It is believed firmly believe we're that let me from a law enforcement standpoint is this a losing battle we won't ever since and losing battle. But every step we make -- to -- for a even a raid like this one is just a drop in the bucket he says and there is an ocean. Illegal goods to pollutants. By David Wright for Nightline in Los Angeles.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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