Feds sift evidence in software piracy probe

Feds sift evidence in software piracy probe

Law enforcement officials from the Justice Department, FBI, Customs Service and other federal agencies are reviewing evidence from dozens of computers seized in a worldwide series of raids earlier this month against criminals who illegally copy and distribute software.

After serving more than 100 search warrants in the United States, Europe and Australia, seizing equipment and conducting interviews, officials are reviewing their next steps in the three-pronged attack on software piracy, they said.

Beginning in 1999, law enforcement agencies established Operation Buccaneer, Operation Bandwidth and Operation Digital Piratez. Together they form the largest antipiracy effort by the U.S. government to date, officials said. The crackdowns focused on international networks of criminals who cooperate with insiders at software companies.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Barney Huftalen in Concord, N.H., said the investigation is continuing and has no geographic boundaries. He said the government has not detained any suspects or brought charges in the cases. U.S. Attorneys' offices in Alexandria, Va., and Las Vegas declined to make substantive comments on the continuing investigations.

In September, Justice announced that it had added nine units to its Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property roster to duplicate successes by two CHIP teams in Northern California.

The CHIP units have 77 staff positions to prosecute and investigate computer crime as well as train other law enforcement officials.

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