Undercover investigators purchased more than 900 black-market law enforcement badges, both real and counterfeit, over the Internet recently.
According to FBI spokesman Jon Stephens, a Florida man with no known ties to terrorists is a suspect in the case but has not yet been arrested. Stephens said the person trafficking the badges was selling them for profit and no other motive is suspected in his sale of the items.
Undercover investigators in Tennessee and Florida bought the badges, which represented more than 40 federal, state, and local agencies including shields from the DEA, military police, and even security police from Air Force One.
One of the shields was an official Utah Highway Patrol badge for the 2002 Winter Olympics, which have not yet begun in Salt Lake City. The badges have not even been issued to Utah troopers yet. Considering the concern for security at the event, the circulating of Olympics police badges on the black market, which could lend authority to anyone waving it around, is of great concern.
Authorities believe the real badges were either lost or stolen before they wound up for sale on the Internet. The FBI is investigating whether where the counterfeit ones came from.
Stephens said the suspect sold the badges on a Website that has since been taken down. After several purchases by undercover agents, the FBI searched the suspect's home, where more badges were found.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol was tipped to the black market trade last summer by someone who said it was easy to buy badges on the Internet.