JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A northeast Florida man was arrested at his home Tuesday on state charges of possessing counterfeit products and selling counterfeit products. The arrest followed a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.
An HSI special agent began investigating Tyrone Pierre Lewis, 29, in April 2012 for trafficking in counterfeit goods. Since then, HSI special agents warned Lewis on three occasions to cease and desist from importing counterfeit products.
HSI, in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, intercepted two packages July 9 that were addressed to a fictitious name at Lewis' address from a counterfeit distributor out of China. The contents of those packages, 148 Lifeproof iPhone cases, were determined to be counterfeit. After Lewis received the packages, he advertised the iPhone cases for sale on an Internet commerce site.
With this information, law enforcement obtained a search warrant for the residence. During the search, detectives seized additional alleged counterfeit iPhone cases, as well as alleged counterfeit DVDs and Nintendo DS games. The manufacturer's suggested retail price of the seized property was valued at more than $20,000. Detectives also seized Lewis' 2011 Hyundai Elantra, which was used to commit the crime.
"Counterfeit goods are often substandard products. We've seen Christmas lights that catch fire and medications composed of harmful chemicals," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. "Time and time again, we warn consumers, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is."
"Although this individual was selling counterfeit products across the country, he was also selling these illegal products to our own citizens in St. Johns County through the Internet," said St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar.
The investigation is ongoing.