Apple has gotten so serious about stopping counterfeiters, it established its own global security team in 2008. This news comes from recently uncovered cables obtained by WikiLeaks and then noted by CNN.

According to a memo acquired from the Beijing embassy dated September 2008, Apple organized a team in March of that year to stop knockoff iPods and iPhones in China and other Asian countries.

Impressively, the team’s chief is John Theriault, a former special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who also worked for Pfizer.

Joining Theriault is Don Shruhan, another former Pfizer employee, who works for Apple’s security team full-time and is based in Hong Kong.

According to the leaked report:

Shruhan told the Beijing embassy official that his group at Pfizer spent five years planning raids on counterfeit drug rings, the cable says. He said he’s “afraid” of the volume of imitation Apple products being produced in China and about the inexperience of Apple’s lawyers in dealing with Chinese authorities, the report says.

Unfortunately, it appears that Apple is having limited success.

As we noted earlier this year, fake Apple Retail Stores remain open in China, as are Apple accessory knockoffs.

CNN states:

Chinese officials readily cooperated with pharmaceutical companies on their raids, but that hasn’t translated to software, as Microsoft has discovered, or electronics, as Apple is learning, said Nachum, the professor. Whereas a defective pill could cause sickness or death, a shoddy iPod has less dire consequences.

With China arguably the largest expanding market available for Apple to conquer, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. After all, while Apple would be wise to tread lightly with Beijing’s communist government, it also doesn’t want to see an expanding counterfeiting business develop in the nation, or anywhere else.

[Photo: USA Colorado Photo Gallery]