Law enforcement officials raided five Southern California CD manufacturing plants early this morning (Dec. 16), seizing property valued in excess of $50 million, the RIAA says.

Law enforcement officials raided five Southern California CD manufacturing plants early this morning (Dec. 16), seizing property valued in excess of $50 million, the RIAA says.

In the largest operation of its kind, involving more than 65 detectives, the Southern California High Tech Task Force and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department targeted optical disc replication facilities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Investigation and forensic analysis traced counterfeit CDs found in stores and flea markets throughout the United States back to the plants.

Preliminary estimates of property seized in "Operation Final Release" include 120,000 music CDs and 79 unauthorized "stampers," each embedded with data that can press up to 50,000 CDs.

"Virtually unprecedented in size and scope, today's anti-piracy operation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff and others delivered a significant blow to piracy during a critical sales period for the recording industry," says Brad Buckles, RIAA executive VP, anti-piracy. "CD plant piracy is particularly damaging because the counterfeit goods produced tend to appear more authentic and often end up in legitimate music distribution chains. Music fans that purchase seemingly genuine product lose out, as do musicians, songwriters and record labels who are deprived of a return on their work."

Search warrants for the five plants -- located in North Hollywood, Baldwin Park, Pomona, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana -- were obtained following an investigation in which the RIAA and IFPI provided technical and forensic assistance to law enforcement officials.

In addition to today's sweep, the RIAA's West Coast anti-piracy office has undertaken a number of enforcement operations in the Southern California area during the holiday season. Since Thanksgiving, approximately 250,000 illegal CDs and DVDs offered for sale have been confiscated.