Mola Lenghi, Arlington Reporter
Melbert Randles was arrested when Arlington police found nearly 600 bootleg DVDs while breaking up a counterfeit DVD operation.
Nearly 600 counterfeit DVDs were seized in what police call an elaborate counterfeit operation in an Arlington home.
Police stumbled on the alleged operation while serving Melbert Randles with a credit card fraud warrant.
"It was a very big bust -- one of the bigger ones we've come across in a long time," Sgt. Steve Williams said.
In addition to the DVDs, officers found DVD burners and computers in Randles' home, police said.
"What we gather is that movies are prereleased overseas oftentimes, and a lot of organized crime groups will obtain copies of this and reproduce it to a digital copy and then sell it on the Internet," Williams said.
Williams said Randles likely planned to sell the counterfeits at flea markets out of his trunk while cruising parking lots at malls and shopping centers.
He said it is a common practice for counterfeiters that can be tough to track.
"They are pretty discrete," Williams said. "They're manufacturing the movies in their offices or their home and pretty much behind the scenes."
"The person selling it may not have any further ties than the sale of it, but it may be tied to a criminal organization, said Aaron Aguilar
We're seeing more organized crime groups becoming involved in counterfeiting products," said Aaron Aguilar, a Recording Industry Association of America investigator.
Aguilar said this side of the industry is not often seen by unsuspecting consumers.
"It's a market that may seem harmless but, in fact, it may also be furthering the operations of organized crime," he said.
Aguilar also said that the effects of counterfeiting reach far beyond big music and film production companies.
"It's the industry as a whole," he said. "CD plants that used to operate here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area 10 years ago, now there are only a few. Same thing with mom-and-pop stores, small record shops who are trying to sell legitimate products, but they have someone standing outside in the parking lot hawking a counterfeit product at a fraction of their price. It's tough to compete."
More than 70,000 jobs and $12 billion in legitimate business in the music industry alone have been lost over the last decade, Aguilar said.
"It's a huge problem," he said.
Williams said the counterfeit goods are also a far cry from the real deal.
"It's going to be typically a substandard product, so the movie may cut out or there may be subtitles in a foreign language, so it's always wise to buy from a reputable source," Williams said.
"You get what you pay for," he said.
Randles is now facing felony counterfeiting charges. The case has been turned over to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office.