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Intellectual Property Rights

16 arrested in counterfeit merchandise investigation

NEWARK, N.J. – Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI along with officers from the Maple Shade and Palmyra, N.J., police departments arrested 16 individuals Sunday in Maple Shade and seized thousands of counterfeit items with an estimated retail value of more than $1 million.

The counterfeit merchandise was seized from flea market vendors as they arrived in their trucks at the Mini-U-Storage Sunday afternoon to store their remaining stock after a weekend of selling the counterfeit items at Tacony-Palmyra Flea Market in Palmyra, N.J.

The counterfeit merchandise included many popular brands and designer products including Polo, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Adidas, Timberland, True Religion, Northface, UGG, Lacoste, Juicy Couture and Gucci.

The following individuals were arrested and charged with criminal simulation and violation of the New Jersey trademark-counterfeiting act:

  • Mohamad Kassir, 31, Afif Kaddouh, 59, Abdallah Balaghi, 41, Iyad Jouni, 39, and Imad Chahine, 49, of Astoria, N.Y.
  • Hassan Darwich, 58, Jersey City, N.J.
  • Ali Hijazi, 32, Guttenberg, N.J.
  • Chadi Kassir, 38, Nader Kassir, 31, and Wissam Kassir, 32, of Maspeth, N.Y.
  • Hussein Ismail, 39, Kent, Wash.
  • Hani Anzola, 38, and Ibrahim Ismail, 44, of Elmhurst, N.Y.
  • Hussein Reda, 60, Sunnyside, N.Y.
  • Abedalilah Elreda, 37, West New York, N.J.
  • Mahamadou Ndiaye, 25, New York City.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Operations such as this one are coordinated through the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center uses the expertise of its 20 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters. To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.