Over 219,000 counterfeit bags, clothes, shoes, and other luxury products with a retail value of $1.03 billion were recently seized from a Manhattan storage unit, according to federal officials.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, two men were arrested on Wednesday – Adama Sow, 38, and Abdulai Jalloh, 48 – for allegedly trafficking the counterfeit goods. If convicted, each defendant would face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
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U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that the seizure contains “massive amounts of designer knock-offs” and is the “largest-ever seizure of counterfeit goods in U.S. history.”
In the recently unsealed indictments, officials said that from January through Oct. 20, the defendants ran the “large-scale” counterfeit goods trafficking operations out of the Manhattan storage facility. What’s more, Jalloh is also accused of trafficking counterfeit goods out of an offsite location in Manhattan.
Searches of premises controlled by Sow have resulted in the seizure of over 83,000 counterfeit items with a total estimated retail value of over $502 million. Searches of premises controlled by Jalloh have resulted in the seizure of over 50,000 counterfeit items with a total estimated value of over $237 million, the indictment said.
“The trafficking of counterfeit goods is anything but a victimless crime because it harms legitimate businesses, governments, and consumers,” NYPD commissioner Edward A. Caban said in a statement. “Today’s indictments show how seriously the NYPD and our federal partners take this offense. And we will continue to work hard to hold accountable anyone who seeks to benefit by selling such items on the black market.”
Ivan J. Arvelo, the special agent in charge of the New York field office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), added that this announcement “underscores the unwavering commitment of HSI New York in the fight against intellectual property theft.”
This bust is just the latest in the fight against counterfeits. In June, police in Shrewsbury, Mass., responding to reports of shots fired discovered $11.3 million worth of counterfeit goods in a storage unit. The stockpile uncovered on June 17 included counterfeit shoes, clothing, handbags, sunglasses, hats, backpacks, cologne, phone cases, earbuds and umbrellas ripping off Gucci, Prada, Luis Vuitton, Chanel, Nike, The North Face and Rolex.
In April, Louis Vuitton filed a lawsuit against a popular Atlanta-area indoor flea market for allowing its tenants to allegedly sell counterfeit goods.
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