Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

29 Charged in Counterfeit Goods Ring

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

29 Charged in Counterfeit Goods Ring

Article excerpt

Federal authorities in New Jersey have charged 29 people, including a Palisades Park resident, in connection with international investigations that uncovered one of the largest counterfeit goods smuggling operations ever, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said Friday.

Charged in three federal complaints and an indictment, the defendants were accused of attempting to import $325 million worth of counterfeit Chinese goods -- from Nike sneakers and Gucci handbags to Lacoste shirts -- through Port Newark-Elizabeth, the largest container port on the Eastern Seaboard, over the past few years.

The investigations, in which undercover agents were paid nearly $3 million to facilitate the smuggling, resulted in the arrests of 20 people on Friday, adding to three others within the past two weeks, in New Jersey, New York, Florida, Texas and Manila, Philippines, said Fishman, calling it "one of the largest counterfeit goods cases every prosecuted by the Department of Justice." Six suspects remained at large Friday.

Most of the defendants were from New York, but one man was from Bergen County: Dao Feng Shi, 35, of Palisades Park was charged with conspiracy on one complaint for his alleged role in purchasing counterfeit goods.

Not only were knockoff footwear and clothing involved in the smuggling schemes, but also counterfeit cigarettes and nearly pure crystal methamphetamine, Fishman said.

Undercover operations

Two of the targets were lured by investigators from Taiwan and mainland China to the United States, and one was lured from Hong Kong to the Philippines so they could be arrested, he added.

"The success of this coordinated, multinational operation is a credit to the tremendous creativity, hard work and dedication of our nation's law enforcement officers," Fishman said.

The charges resulted from two parallel undercover operations, led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations unit and the FBI, that ultimately identified overlapping targets who were members of separate schemes, Fishman said. Officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection also were involved in the investigations. …

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