Feds in New York seized $200 million in fake goods yesterday in one of the largest-ever counterfeit smuggling
rings of designer apparel, shoes and accessories.
Labels seized included Chanel, Nike, Burberry, Polo Ralph Lauren and
Baby Phat. The busts
occurred after a one-year investigation that included an undercover
agent. Federal officials in Manhattan arrested and arraigned 10
people including a licensed Customs broker. The goods were discovered in more than 100 shipping containers
packed full of cases of fake sneakers, handbags, jeans and other
The raid proves stepped-up efforts by Federal and
local officials in seizing counterfeit goods which is a major plague for
fashion and luxury brands. Brands from Louis
Vuitton to Cartier also have been stepping up their own legal efforts
to blunt the sale of counterfeits from China, focusing a lot of their
attention on the streets around Canal Street in New York.
smugglers also were charged with attempting to bribe an undercover U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent posing as a corrupt
longshoreman’s union official by offering $500,000 in cash bribes.
Shipments of the goods
were disguised in different ways. The
smuggling ring planned to mislabel products to avoid quotas and
detection. For example, the smugglers told the undercover agent they
planned to label jeans as pants and leather sneakers as PVC. "Refrigerated noodle" cases of Nike sneakers surfaced on a number of
occasions during the probe.
After the counterfeits cleared
Customs, a Brooklyn-based husband-and-wife trucking company moved them
to warehouse locations for storage. The goods were distributed from
there to retail outlets in Brooklyn and Queens.
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