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Intellectual Property Rights

2 California men charged with operating large-scale movie, music counterfeiting scheme

FRESNO, Calif. — Two northern California men have been indicted on federal charges for running a high-volume operation suspected of selling counterfeit movie DVDs and music CDs, following a probe spearheaded by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Emilio Perez-Solis, 39, of Oakland, and Hernan Cortes, 53, of Tulare, are named in a four-count indictment handed down Thursday charging them with criminal copyright infringement for private financial gain, criminal copyright infringement, trafficking in counterfeit labels, documentation and packaging, and conspiracy.

According to court documents, the defendants used an agriculture building in Fresno as a distribution point for the counterfeit CDs and DVDs. From there, Perez-Solis sold the counterfeit CDs and DVDs, including movies that were only in theatrical release and not yet available on DVD. Cortes assisted Perez-Solis in distributing counterfeit media from the building. When authorities searched the building Feb. 21, they found approximately 70,000 counterfeit music CDs and movie DVDs.

"Commercial piracy and product counterfeiting undermine the U.S. economy, rob Americans of jobs, stifle American innovation and promote other types of crime," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of HSI Fresno. "Intellectual property theft amounts to economic sabotage, which is why HSI will continue to aggressively pursue product counterfeiters and those who sell counterfeit products."

HSI received assistance with the investigation from the Fresno County Sherriff's Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Patrick R. Delahunty are prosecuting the case.

The defendants, who are currently in custody, are scheduled to be arraigned in Fresno March 10.

If convicted the men face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy, copyright infringement for financial gain, and trafficking in counterfeit labels charges.

Individuals can provide invaluable assistance by reporting suspicious criminal activity to the HSI Tip Line at 866-DHS-2ICE (866-347-2423).