ICE raids 32 locations in an attempt to take a bite out of cyber crime

Federal U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided 32 businesses and homes today, searching for game consoles that allow gamers to play pirated video games on game consoles.

The raids, part of Operation Tangled Web, took place in 16 states, including California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Texas, while ICE officials searched for mod chips and swap discs designed for the Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. Operation Tangled Web took more than a year of preparation and investigation.

The Entertainment Software Association estimates that video game piracy costs the game industry around $3 billion per year around the world - the estimate doesn't include Internet piracy.

“Microsoft applauds ICE for its effort to reduce piracy and protect the intellectual property of Microsoft and its industry partners. This is an important step in the continuing fight against piracy and the threat it presents to the global economy and consumers throughout the world," Microsoft said in an official statement.

Nintendo attributed a loss of more than $750 million due to piracy last year, said Jodi Daughtery, Nintendo of America anti-piracy senior director.

"Illicit devices like the ones targeted today are created with one purpose in mind, subverting copyright protections," said Julie Myers, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for ICE. "These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering," she added.