WASHINGTON - Federal customs agents Wednesday raided more than 30 businesses and homes, looking for devices that allow pirated video games to be played on Sony's Playstation 2, Microsoft's XBOX and XBOX 360 and Nintendo's Wii.

The alleged sale and distribution of illegal modification chips and copyright circumvention devices for these popular consoles and others included 32 search warrants in 16 states, said the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The federal raids came after a yearlong investigation conducted by ICE's Office of the Assistant Special Agent in Charge in Cleveland.

ICE declined to release the names of those targeted or any other details.

The illegal chips and other devices used on gaming consoles violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

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


Couldn't a Mod chip, rather than being used to play pirated video games, be just as likely to be used for the purpose of playing imported titles that haven't, and will probably never, be released in the U.S. Why shouldn't consumers have the right to use a MOD chip for that purpose? Once again, this is Big Government, and Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo, telling us what to do and what games to play in the privacy of our own homes, even if we're playing an import-only title. You don't want us playing, say, Ultimate Mahjong 6 (not a real game, BTW, just an example) because it's a Japan-only title? Fine. Release it stateside, then. Otherwise, stay the hell out of my house and let me play what I want.