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Intellectual Property Rights

5 indicted for allegedly selling counterfeit goods

BALTIMORE – A federal grand jury has indicted five individuals related to a conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

On April 22, HSI Baltimore special agents arrested the following men charged in the indictment: Tidiane Ba, 44; Mamadou Lamine Ba, 51; Abass Baro, 44 and Sakho Oumar, 33, all of Baltimore. The fifth defendant charged in the indictment, Baba Toure, 39, also of Baltimore, is still being sought. The indictment was returned April 18 and unsealed today. The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $2 million. Tidiane Ba, Mamadou Lamine Ba, Abass Baro and Sakho Oumar had an initial appearance April 23 and were released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services. No other court date is currently scheduled.

According to the six count indictment, from October 2011 through April 2012, the defendants operated in and around Baltimore, including at the Patapsco Flea Market, selling counterfeit purses, handbags, shoes, watches, hats and other items by luxury manufacturers such as Michael Kors, Coach, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo. According to the indictment, the counterfeit goods bore the trademarks registered by victim companies with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The indictment alleges that packages were received from merchandise suppliers in New York City and storage units were rented to store the counterfeit trademarked merchandise. According to court documents, HSI special agents seized counterfeit goods from the defendants on several occasions during the course of the investigation.

Four defendants were arrested April 22, 2012, after HSI special agents executed search warrants at two residences and two storage units, seizing counterfeit items and cash.

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off our streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind such illicit activity.

HSI manages the IPR Center in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a task force, 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 HSI-led IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.

This indictment is an example of the type of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation's economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to http://www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Herring and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Duey.