MIDLAND, Texas — Three businessmen were arrested Thursday and charged with selling counterfeit merchandise at eight kiosks at a local shopping mall by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.
The arrests followed a joint investigation by HSI and the FBI special agents.
Raja Zafar Iqbal, 41, and his brother, Javed Iqbal Raja, 50, both naturalized U.S. citizens from Pakistan, and Muhammad Asif Raza, 33, a citizen and national of Pakistan, are charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods or services.
During its yearlong investigation, HSI special agents discovered that the three men were allegedly involved in illegally importing and selling counterfeit merchandise in the United States. Late Thursday night, HSI and FBI special agents arrested the defendants inside the Music City Mall in Odessa, Texas.
The defendants are suspected of importing and trafficking trademark violated items such as: Otterbox, Hello Kitty, Chanel, Nike, Air Jordan, Monster and Polo.
Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso, said individuals who sell counterfeit merchandise cost legitimate businesses billions in lost revenue, compromising the economic well-being of the United States.
"Criminal organizations involved in trafficking counterfeit merchandise are profiting off the backs of legitimate companies and their hard-working employees," said Ulrich, who oversees HSI operations in west Texas and the state of New Mexico. "HSI is committed to working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to shut them down."
The defendants made their initial appearance in federal court Sept. 6.