NEW YORK — Special Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in conjunction with the New York Police Department (NYPD) arrested seven Queens residents and seized close to $2.2 million worth of counterfeit designer merchandise.
In a joint operation Tuesday, HSI and the NYPD arrested seven people for trademark counterfeiting and seized hundreds of fake designer handbags, gloves, wallets, watches and other items bearing the logos of various designers - including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Prada. The seizures took place at various storage locations in Queens, New York.
Naqing Zhang, 31, and his wife, Wei Dong, 32, Chin C. Chu, 43, and his wife, Jian Y. Xia, 38, Sai E. Chen, 39, Wei A. Liao, 41,and Zhou Pizhong, 22, face charges of second-degree trademark counterfeiting. If convicted, they each face up to four years in prison.
"Trademark counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. The small counterfeit operations like the ones discovered here fuel an underground economy. They are cash businesses that pay no taxes and damage the reputations of reputable brand owners, and lower consumer confidence in the name brands by foisting inferior products into the marketplace," said Queens District Attorney, Richard A. Brown. "With the holiday season in full swing, consumers should bear in mind that such unauthorized products, which often come from offshore, steals jobs from American workers and revenue from legitimate American manufacturers and retailers that can result in actual job losses to their employees. In addition, such piracy deprives the city and state of much needed tax revenue. My office is committed to working to close down these illegal operations and prosecute those involved."
"Trademark counterfeiting is a global economic problem that costs manufacturers millions of dollars which translates into the loss of jobs for many hardworking people," said New York City Police Commissioner, Willam J. Bratton. "I want to thank all of the investigators and prosecutors involved in this significant seizure of counterfeit goods during the holiday shopping season."
According to one complaint, defendants Nanqing Zhang and Wei Wei Dong, while working out of two separate storage locations - Treasure Island Storage located at 109-09 180th Street in Jamaica, Queens and 18-02 131st Street in College Point, New York - between July 14, 2014, and Dec. 2, 2014, sold more than 50 counterfeit handbags bearing the Louis Vuitton logo to an undercover operative. In executing a court-authorized search warrant at the defendants' Treasure Island bin earlier this week, 65 large boxes were allegedly seized which contained more than 5,300 counterfeit items, including handbags, gloves, wallets, hats and designer tags (to be placed on the counterfeit items) bearing the names of such designers as Tory, Burch, Michael Kors, Prada, The North Face, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Hermes, UGG and Burberry.
The city has charged defendants Chin C. Chu and Jian Y. Xia with selling more than 50 counterfeit Guicci and Chanel handbags to an undercover operative between Aug. 14, 2014, and Nov. 24, 2014, from a storage bin at Treasure Island Storage. In executing a court authorized search warrant at the defendants' Treasure Island bin earlier this week, special agents and police officers seized more than 1,700 counterfeit items, including handbags, pocket purses, wallets, watches, belts and scarves bearing the names of Michael Kors, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Guicci, Hermes and Burberry.
A third complaint alleges that Wei Da Liao, while working out of the Treasure Island Storage facility between Nov. 5 and Nov. 26, 2014, sold more than 30 counterfeit boots and jackets bearing the logos of The North Face, UGG and Michael Kors to an undercover operative. In executing a court-authorized search warrant at the defendant's Treasure Island bin earlier this week, special agents and officers seized more than 2,150 counterfeit items including pants, hoodies, scarves, gloves, jackets, fleeces, belts, wallets, hats and jeans bearing the names of Juicy, Michael Kors, Versace, The North Face, Louis Vuitton, Guicci, Fendi and True Religion.
A fourth complaint alleges that Sai E. Chen made more than 50 sales of counterfeit bags to an undercover operative. It is additionally alleged that Chen had counterfeit products delivered to her Flushing, residence and that she would then transport the products, as well as other product held in a family member's garage, to the bin she maintained at the Treasure Island Storage facility. In executing court-authorized search warrants at her residence, the storage facility and the family member's garage earlier this week, more than 1,400 counterfeit items were allegedly seized, including handbags, wallets, watches, belts, scarves, sunglasses, bracelets and designer tags (to be placed on the counterfeit items) bearing the logos of Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes, Burberry, Ferragamo, Chanel, Ray Ban and Cartier.
Finally, it is alleged in a 50 count complaint that Zhou Pizhong, while working out of the Treasure Island storage facility and a building at 18-02 131st Street in College Point, New York, between Oct. 1, 2014, and Dec. 2, 2014, sold more than 25 sets of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones to an undercover operative. In executing court-authorized search warrants earlier this week at the two locations, more than 2, 350 counterfeit items were seized, including headphones, mini speakers, boots, sandals, belts, handbags and shirts bearing the logos of Beats by Dr. Dre, Michael Kors, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Guicci, Ferragamo, Burberry, Hermes, Prada and Ralph Lauren.
District Attorney Brown thanked Richard Conte, of Counter Tech Investigations, a licensed private investigation agency that represents numerous brands, including The North Face, Nike, True Religion and Polo, and enforces trademark violations, and Harry Cheng, of the Allegiance Protection Group, a private investigations and security firm which investigates counterfeiting on behalf of numerous designers, including, but not limited to, Chanel, Gucci, Beats by Dr. Dre, Prada, Michael
Kors, The North Face and Louis Vuitton for their assistance during the course of the investigation.